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Could baseball coins be great art?

2014 U.S. Coin Digest

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Few collectors would evaluate recent American coinage as being of intelligent design. However, more and more, it is beginning to look like that is precisely what we will get with the 2014 baseball commemorative coins.

All three coins, the gold $5, silver dollar and the clad half dollar will have the same design. They also will be struck not on a traditional planchet, but on one that curves both in and out.

On the reverse, which is the convex side, which curves out, will be a baseball. At long last, imagine having a coin design that is virtually 3-D. And we won’t have to wear special theater glasses to see it.

Though the common obverse design has not yet been chosen, the compelling logic as ordained by the shape of the planchet is that a baseball glove be used. This is the concave side, or curving inward, which is just what a baseball glove does.

Such a design would be intelligent. That doesn’t mean we will end up with it come September when the choice is announced. However, if you were Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, what would you choose?

All three coins will share the shape and designs. Obviously, on the small $5 gold piece, the visual impact will be less, but because the color of gold very nearly matches the color of a baseball glove, it will look more lifelike than what we are used to seeing on coins.

The silver dollar is not quite baseball size, but it is close enough that it will resemble a baseball, especially if it has a nice white frosted look to it. The clad half dollar won’t be all that far behind on the reality scale.

Dare collectors hope that we will actually be presented with something that not only is art, but good, clever, all-American art?

It is about time that something gives the Buffalo nickel design a run for the title of most American art. Classic art is all well and good, but if you want to tug at my heart strings, I think the baseball and glove will win hands down.

It is not a done deal yet. Something could spoil it, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

With these coins we might actually see a sellout of the 50,000 gold and 400,000 silver dollars. I am less optimistic about the 750,000 clad half dollars selling out, but perhaps there will be a little numismatic baseball fever to move it along.

My feelings aside, numismatics has not been particularly excited by baseball themes. Those of us who thought they are a natural fit were surprised by how badly the Jackie Robinson coins did. However, that just made the huge profits earned by the small number of buyers all the sweeter.

Popular coins always do badly because everyone who wants one gets one. It is the coins that are unpopular at the time of issue that get the huge price boosts on the secondary market.

So, I guess if you are hoping to buy these new coins, you will be rooting for the choice of a top-notch baseball theme and hoping that few others share your passion. How odd that seems, but that’s how it works.

 

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