Skip to main content

Do cupped coins have a future?

It is time to wish everyone a happy new year. I hope it is a prosperous one for everyone and coin collectors can pursue their numismatic dreams.

In 2014 we had some instances that make me wonder how they can be topped in 2015.

One of these was when the U.S. Mint struck its first cupped coins for the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative program that were released in late March.

These new coins generated great excitement and the gold $5 and silver dollar sold out quickly.

The clad half dollar did not sell out, but with sales of approximately 400,000, I think it is fair to say that this program breathed new life into collector thinking about the desirability of clad coinage.

Are cupped coins a novelty that we will soon put aside, or is there some sort of future for more cupped coins for collectors?

Obviously, they cannot be struck for circulation.

Equally obviously is that once the Mint has mastered the minting technique, it can manufacture cupped coins again.

The question is should it?

It seems such a waste to create and utilize a Mint capability just once.

But how far can the Mint go before most collectors will tire of the concept and simply consider cupped coins to be a gimmick?

We can draw lessons from the past.

Boredom does not set in right away.

In fact, one good program can be followed by yet another, even several.

At the outset of the modern commemorative program in 1982, the very appearance of new commemorative half dollars after an absence of 28 years was exciting.

In 1984 the first gold U.S. coin struck since 1933 came off the production line to honor the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles in the form of a $10 gold piece.

Commemoratives were attractive. Collectors bought large numbers of them.

By the 1990s the novelty had worn off and mintages began to plunge, but we had a good six to 10 years of new issues that most collectors were drawn to.

That means the Mint can do another cupped coin program and collectors will respond to it favorably.

Can you cup just any old coin design?

I don’t think so. Otherwise the Mint could crank out cupped clad Kennedy half dollars and cupped Presidential dollars.

Both denominations are now manufactured only for sale to collectors.

The baseball coins worked so well because they depicted an object that is spherical.

That limits possibilities. It has been suggested that there be a cupped coin or coins in 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

That would work, but it is four years away.

Hopefully, we will have another cupped coin before too much time passes.

Perhaps collectors can suggest an idea that will make this possible.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."