Some new detail is now available on the US Mint website about the companion program to the new Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program launching in 2007.
In case you missed it, I’ve written a couple of posts about the program, and they have both been fairly popular over time:
- US Mint Unveils the 2007 Presidential Dollar Coins
- Coming Soon: The Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program
Some interesting detail about the program:
The United States is honoring our Nation’s First Spouses by issuing one-half ounce $10 gold coins featuring their images, in the order that they served as first spouse, beginning in 2007 with Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, (Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty) and Dolley Madison. The obverse of these coins will feature portraits of the Nation’s First Spouses, their names, the dates and order of their term as first spouse, as well as the year of minting or issuance, “In God We Trust” and “Liberty.” The United States Mint will mint and issue First Spouse Gold Coins on the same schedule as the Presidential $1 Coins issued honoring the Presidents. Each coin will have a unique reverse design featuring an image emblematic of that spouse’s life and work, as well as “The United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “$10,” “1/2 oz.” and “.9999 Fine Gold.”
When a President served without a First Spouse, such as Thomas Jefferson, a gold coin will be issued bearing an obverse image emblematic of Liberty as depicted on a circulating coin of that era, and bearing a reverse image emblematic of themes of that President.
The United States Mint will also produce and make available to the public bronze medal duplicates of the First Spouse Gold Coins.
A few key points stand out to me here, as a collector:
- These coins will be expensive. These look like they will be the second series of coins in US history to be a full 24K gold (99.99% pure). The first, of course, was the new 2006 American Buffalo, and at one ounce the proof version of this coin sold for $800. Given that the price of gold is not likely to decrease much in the near term, it’s likely that each of these coins will retail at between $400-$500 in proof form, making this a $2,000-a-year habit for the collector. Compare this to the US State Quarter program, where a 90% silver version of each year’s coins would only cost you $20-$40, depending on whether you bought the quarters alone, or the full year silver proof set.
- No detail on bundled sets, yet. It stands to reason that the US Mint will produce some form of collectible proof set of the matching gold coin and presidential dollar… but what form will be the favorite? Would you rather have a single set of all the coins for the year? Or each President, paired with their first spouse? Does it really make sense to have a manganese-brass coin for the President, and 24K solid gold for the first spouse? I’m a little afraid the US Mint is going to be over-eager here, and produce too many versions of these coins to be anything but frustrating to collectors.
- Trivial Pursuit, First Spouse Edition. Martha Washington, most people know. There will definitely be some fun in identifying which Presidents actually served without spouses, or which Presidents served with two. (You can find the answers to these questions already in the US Mint schedule, available on their site.) I will admit, when I think of Dolley Madison, I think of baked goods, not gold coin #4. Is anyone, beyond speculators, really going to jump at purchasing these coins?
As a collector, I guess this comes down to one question: will there be enough demand for these coins to generate a good long term return. Unlike the dollars, these will not be in general circulation. Will they be treated like bullion coins (fantastic long term returns to collectors) or like special-edition commeratives, which tend not to appreciate over time?
When I first heard about the program, I thought that it was too expensive, but there might be real long term demand for “popular” spouses – Martha Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacquiline Kennedy… Now, I’m not so sure.
Recently, I’ve been shocked by the sky-rocketing price for the new, uncirculated silver eagle from the US Mint. As a new issue in 2006, this was not a proof coin, just a new, uncirculated silver eagle in a nice case for $17 from the US Mint. The price on eBay is now over $50, largely because it turns out that this was the only way to get the “W” mint-mark coin, and relatively few people acquired it. Right now, this version is worth almost double what the much prettier, proof-version of the silver eagle is worth.
Will the pattern be the same for these coins? Will Dolley Madison end up selling poorly in 2007, resulting in a sky-rocketing price in 2015 when everyone realizes they need Dolly Madison to complete the set? Will anyone be trying to complete this set, at an aggregate cost of over $16,000 at today’s prices?
If you are a coin collector out there, I’d love to hear from you.
Update (6/19/2007): I’ve just posted a new article on the launch of the coins, today, at the US Mint website. $429.95 for the proof coin, $410.95 for the uncirculated coin. Shipping will start on July 4th. Total mintage: 40,000 coin limit per first spouse, regardless of type of coin.
Update (6/21/2007): The first spouse coins sold out in approximately 2 hours! Unbelievable. Check out this post for more information, and a link to current prices on eBay.