By William H. Brownstein
There were a number of articles stating that the U.S. Mint in San Francisco would be issuing the five 2012 circulation quality America the Beautiful clad quarters with the “S” mintmark in limited quantities of only 1.4 million each.
The Mint website shows that the issue release date of the El Yunque design is June 21, 2012, and there is a question of whether the 2012-S date will be a one-year occurrence to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Mint, or an annual occurrence.
What I found phenomenal about the announcement was that the only way to get a circulation quality 2012-S quarter was to buy it either in a 100-coin bag, or in rolls of 40 coins directly from the U.S. Mint and that none would be issued in mint sets or released to the Federal Reserve. This assures a very limited mintage and instant rarity.
Also, since the only way to have a complete set of America the Beautiful quarters would be to buy either a bag or rolls of the quarters, or to buy one in the after market, it looked to be an instant rarity.
Remember, you cannot get one in a mint set nor can you get one in circulation unless someone, presumably a collector, pays a hefty premium for a bag or rolls, and then decides to spend them at face value.
I think the announcement for the 1.4 million mintage will be a repeat of the catastrophe that occurred with the 2011 American Eagle five-piece set. Although that set had a mintage of 100,000, at $299 a set it was far more expensive than would be a set of 100 quarters for $32.95 for 100 instant rarity quarters.
Unfortunately, I saw that the U.S. Mint has taken off the 1.4 million limit and it will produce the 2012-S quarter to demand, whatever that is. When they will cease production and what inventories of the quarters they will keep on hand is anyone’s guess.
If the past is any indication of what may occur, the U.S. Mint made limited issues of the 1995-W proof silver Eagle, only available if you bought the four-coin gold proof set, which at the time was $999; the 1996-W dime, which had to be purchased with the 1996 mint set and the fractional Buffalo gold BU and proof coins only issued in 2008.
I don’t see as much interest in Roosevelt dimes as there is in ATB quarters, so the 1996-W is a sleeper even though PCGS shows that it is valued at between $17 in MS-64 to $350 in MS-69.
If the past is any indication, the only recent issues with mintage limited to demand were the 1995-W proof American Eagle, the 2008 $5, $10 and $25 gold Buffalo coins and the limited issue one- year type 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, all of which are trading at multiples of their original issue price, although some of the appreciation can be attributed to the increase in the intrinsic value of the precious metal in the coins.
Even with a mintage equal to demand, it is my opinion that the 2012-S quarters are a good candidate for upward appreciation. The cost of roughly 32.95 cents for a 25-cent coin, coupled by the fact that ordinary collectors may not know how to get them or desire to buy 40 to 100 coins to get one for their collection may equate to a strong secondary market.
Someone who missed out on buying the quarter may want to buy one of the relatively inexpensive 100-coin bags, and those who have them can probably reap a good profit for little downside risk as the most you can lose, without considering postage, is $7.95 a bag.
Finally, if the U.S. Mint limits production to demand, and the period for production is limited to only 2.4 months per issue, it may have a low mintage, and again, only available if purchased directly from the Mint in a roll or in bags.
Only time will tell what the outcome is for the 2012-S quarters, whether the U.S. Mint will continue to strike them, whether they will include them in Mint sets or whether this is, as I believe it will be, a one-year set.
This Viewpoint was written by William H. Brownstein, a southern California hobbyist. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.