June 19, 2024

New Gold and Silver Baseball Commemorative Coins Highlight Lack Of Innovation By U.S. Mint

How Congress Stifles Innovative Coin Designs By U.S. Mint

Ever wonder why the U.S. Mint shows a lack of innovation in coin design compared to other world mints?  Here’s part of the reason as detailed by Mint News Blog:

Many coin related bills are introduced each year, but only a small number become law. In order for a bill to become law, it must be passed by both the House and Senate and then signed into law by the President. Under Congressional rules, two-thirds of each body must co-sponsor a bill before it is even put up to a vote, which is the hurdle that many bills cannot meet. Another rule limits the number of commemorative coin programs to only two per year.

The most recent bill to become law was the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act. The bill H.R. 2527 was introduced on July 14, 2011, passed in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, passed by the Senate on July 12, 2012, and signed by the President on August 3, 2012.

The program calls for the minting and issuance of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollars, and 750,000 clad half dollars in recognition and celebration of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. These coins will be issued only during the one-year period beginning on January 1, 2014.

Mint New Blog goes on to discuss how the coin design will be unique with the reverse of the coin made convex and the obverse concave to enhance the resemblance to a baseball.  The coin may resemble a recently produced dome shaped coin issued by the Royal Australian Mint as shown below.

The commemorative baseball coin would represent the first innovation in coin design by the U.S. Mint since 2000 when the Library of Congress $10 coin was produced, which was the first and only US Mint bimetallic coin.  While the new baseball coin will certainly increase public interest in precious metal coins, Congress should grant the U.S. Mint more latitude to produce a wide variety of innovative coins without an onerous legislative process.

Demand For Silver Bullion Coins Hits Record High On Bargain Prices

Sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins hit an all time record high during 2011 according to production figures from the U.S. Mint.

Sales of the Silver Eagle bullion coins increased by 13.3% in December to 2,009,000 compared to last year’s sales of 1,772,000.  For all of 2011, total Silver Eagle sales came in at an all time record high of 39,868,500 ounces, up 15.0% from the prior year’s total of 34,662,500 ounces.

In addition to the silver bullion coins, the U.S. Mint also produces proof and uncirculated American Eagle silver coins which can be purchased by the public directly from the U.S. Mint.  Commencing in 2010, the U.S. Mint began producing the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion 5oz coin.  During 2011, the U.S. Mint sold 397,700 of the 5oz coins, which represents almost another 2 million ounces of physical silver demand during 2011.

The U.S. Mint does not sell the American Silver Eagle bullion coins directly to the public.  The bullion coins are purchased from the U.S. Mint by a network of authorized purchasers who in turn resell them to secondary retailers for public sale.

Monthly sales of the Silver Eagle bullion coins during 2011 are shown below.

Silver had a volatile year during 2011, reaching a high of $48.70 in April and then dropping to a low of $32.50 in May after the COMEX repeatedly raised margin requirements on silver futures (see How the COMEX Crashed The Silver Market).  After recovering to $43.49 in August, silver declined to end the year at $28.18, off 8.1% for the year.

Despite the volatility in silver prices during 2011, investor demand for physical silver remained exceptionally strong.  After the significant price pullback from the April high, many analysts and armchair commentators who never owned an ounce of silver in their life were predicting a plunge in demand for silver.  The exact opposite occurred as long term investors took advantage of what is another historic buying opportunity comparable to 2008.

The case for buying silver remains rock solid and patient long term investors have been well rewarded.  As opposed to buyers of paper silver products such as the iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV), holders of physical silver are invested in precious metals as part of a long term wealth preservation and appreciation strategy.  While speculators in paper silver products trade in and out, usually winding up with losses from my observations, long term holders of physical silver have seen the value of their holdings rise significantly.

Silver - courtesy kitco.com

As central banks of the world continue to print money at an accelerated rate, 2012 should be a year of strong gains for both gold and silver.  A steady plan of silver and gold bullion accumulation remains a no-brainer decision.  Since 2008, sales of silver eagle bullion coins have soared.  Last year, extremely heavy demand for silver resulted in periodic product allocations by the U.S. Mint.

In an excellent article by Steve Angelo, it was shown that massive physical demand for both the American Silver Eagles and Canadian Maple Leaf coins resulted in official coin sales surpassing the total silver production of both the United States and Canada.

Expect demand for silver bullion products during 2012 to surpass the record year of 2011.  Shown below are the yearly sales figures since 2000 for the American Silver Eagle bullion coins.

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
2000 9,133,000
2001 8,827,500
2002 10,475,500
2003 9,153,500
2004 9,617,000
2005 8,405,000
2006 10,021,000
2007 9,887,000
2008 19,583,500
2009 28,766,500
2010 34,662,500
2011 39,868,500


$40 Silver Predicted By Year End

Will silver hit $40 by year end?

The latest in depth report on silver from the Silver Institute builds a sound fundamental rationale for a price of $40/ounce or higher by 2011 year end.  The Silver Institute report analyzes the current silver market, sources of investment demand, paper instruments linked to silver, silver mining stocks and privately held silver stocks.

Highlights of the Silver Institute report are summarized below and the full report can be found here.

1.   China and India dominate retail demand for silver but demand from India can be volatile with periods of heavy disinvestment such as occurred in 2009.  The key to silver demand in India remains linked to consumer price expectations and inflation in India has been soaring, reaching almost double digits.

Based on India’s current 9% inflation rate, 2012 is likely to see continued huge demand for both gold and silver.   Paper assets currently have little appeal to Indians seeking to preserve their wealth since interest rates are currently negative.  According to an article published at GATA, the yield on ten year notes is almost 1% below the rate of inflation resulting in an erosion of wealth for holders of paper assets.  Savers are reacting accordingly and purchasing precious metals to preserve their wealth.  During October, imports of gold and silver rose 40% to $7.2 billion.

2.   The Silver Institute forecasts that gold and silver will benefit as a safe haven based on the expanding European sovereign debt crisis which appears to be spiraling out of control.  Silver should also benefit from asset reallocation as recession in Europe causes losses in traditional paper assets.

Amazingly, as both paper currencies and governments continue to collapse, investors still have a blind misguided faith in paper assets back only by the “full faith and credit” of insolvent nations.  Proof of this is seen by the Silver Institute’s forecast of only a 10% increase in retail demand for bullion coin and small bar in Europe.  Demand for precious metals in the U.S. is forecast even lower at 7%.  Such modest demand for the only currency that cannot be debased by government actions completely refutes those who claim that precious metals are in a bubble.

3.  The Silver Institute forecasts that investment demand in 2011 will reach new record highs of $10 billion.  Chinese demand for physical silver should grow by 25% and Indian demand for silver should increase by a massive 55% to 45 million ounces.  The Institute Report also notes that the silver market in China is still very small since the market for silver was only recently liberalized in 2009.

U.S. investors have also taken the opportunity to capitalize on bargain silver prices.   U.S. Mint sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins should easily hit an all time record high of over 42 million ounces in 2011.

4.   The Silver Institute notes that the rise in silver prices has correlated with the increased price of gold and also benefited from the introduction of ETF products, such as the iShares Silver Trust (SLV).  The iShares Silver Trust has grown to $10.6 billion with holdings of 314.6 million ounces of silver since its launch in 2006.

The correlation of silver to gold prices, as represented by the gold/silver ratio, also suggests that the price of silver is undervalued.   From a long term historical perspective, a gold/silver ratio of 16 has prevailed.   After dropping from 70 to 30 during the first half of the year, the gold/silver ratio has climbed to 52.  If the gold/silver ratio returns to 16, silver prices could easily reach $110 per ounce based on the current price of gold.

The increasingly tenuous “value” of paper currencies combined with increased worldwide demand for silver as a safe haven asset makes a compellingly bullish case for additional investment in silver.





Perth Mint Introduces Stunning Silver Proof Coins

The Perth Mint has offered a variety of stunningly beautiful coins over the years.  As an investor/collector, it is particularly appealing to purchase coins that not only have the intrinsic value of precious metals but also offer a magnificent coin design.

The latest offerings from the Perth Mint highlight their artistry in producing coins with colorization.  The limited mintage coins are not only enjoyable to own and display but also make excellent gifts, especially for those who have never owned precious metal coins.

The three latest silver proof coins from the Perth Mint illustrate that investing in precious metals can not only be profitable but also enjoyable.

Australian Sea Life II – The Reef – Hawksbill Turtle

This coin’s reverse features the endangered Hawksbill Turtle which lives in the coral reefs of northern Australia.  The silver proof coin’s mintage is limited to only 10,000 coins and is offered in 1/2 ounce size 99.9% pure silver.  The coin’s obverse depicts Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth along with the 2011 year date.  A display case is included with the coin.  The cost of the coin in US dollars is $65.20.

Australia’s Box Jellyfish 1 oz Silver Proof Coin

Depicting the deadly box jellyfish on the coin’s reverse and offered in 99.9% pure silver, this 1 ounce coin has extremely limited mintage of 5,000.  The obverse of the coin features Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and also the monetary denomination.  A high gloss timber presentation case houses each coin.  The cost of the coin in US dollars in $112.04.

Transformers III – 1 oz Silver Proof Trio

Transformers III comes as a three coin set with mintage limited at 5,000 coins. Featured on the respective coin’s reverse are colorized depictions of Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Each 1 ounce coin is struck in proof quality 99.9% pure silver and the obverse depicts Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.  Each coin comes housed in a clear presentation box.  The cost of the three coin set in US dollars is $288.82.

While the Perth Mint offers a wide variety of coins, many in limited mintage, the U.S. Mint has taken the opposite approach based on the theory that not every collector who wanted the coin would be able to purchase it.   Neither has the U.S. Mint ever produced coins with colorization and many of the U.S. coin designs are dated.

The U.S. Mint should consider producing limited mintage coins with more imaginative designs to create some product excitement and expand the universe of coin and precious metal collectors/investors.