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Loyal buyers buoy 5-ounce silver coin series

America the Beautiful (ATB) 5-ounce silver coins are big, bold and sought after by collectors and investors alike.

Those loyal to the series will be buying the latest ATB release – Great Sand Dunes.

“I’d say about 80 percent are returning buyers,” John Maben, CEO of Modern Coin Mart, Sarasota, Fla. “About 10 percent tend to drop out, but 30 percent are new buyers coming into the series.”

Demand was much higher at the start of the series for a number of reasons, he said.

“It started off on a bad note when the Mint was making so few compared to demand at the time,” Maben said. “With the economy the way it was then, they could have sold a lot more,” he said.

The Mint could have easily made 300,000 of each coin released in 2011 and sold them all. However, they decided to only mint 100,000 each, he said.

“After that, the demand dropped down quite a bit and the mintages have come down to around 30,000,” he said.

Prices for the in-demand 2010 and 2011 coins dropped down as well, he said.

“What they sell for today is only 30 percent of what they were selling for back in 2011,” he said.

Demand continues to remain steady towards the America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coin series.

Demand continues to remain steady towards the America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coin series.

Sales today to collectors are steady, with sales equal between graded bullion coins and the graded collector’s version, he said.

Grading services are designating the uncirculated collector’s version of the ATB 5-ounce coins with the “P” Philadelphia mintmark with a SP grade.

“When each new coin comes out, we sell about 250 of each. The bullion we sell is graded MS-69 Deep Mirror Proof-Like (DPL) and the vapor finish coins are graded either SP-69 or SP-70,” he said.

Demand is high for high grade collector’s version ATB 5-ounce coins, he said.

“The SP-70 graded coins outsell the SP-69 coins 10 to 1,” Maben said.

There’s a good reason as to why collectors are going after the highest grade for both the collector and the bullion coins.

Michael Haynes, CEO of APMEX, Oklahoma City, Okla., said the -70s always draw attention because of the registry sets being created.

“These registry sets require the top grade coins, so there is a big demand for MS-70 and SP-70 ATB 5-ounce coins,” he said.

At APMEX, a 2013-P Perry’s Victory PCGS graded SP-69 is priced at $249. The same coin in SP-70 is priced at $349. Both coin’s slab labels were also signed by John Mercanti, 12th chief engraver at the U.S. Mint.

The older ATB 5-ounce coins are also in demand, as they are no longer being made, Haynes said.

“The Hawaii Volcanoes and the Mount Rushmore ATB 5-ounce coins are very popular, mainly due to their great designs,” he said.

The price for an ungraded 2012-P Hawaii Volcanoes ATB 5-ounce coin is $399 at APMEX while an ungraded 2013-P Mount Rushmore ATB 5-ounce coin is $199.

“This reflects the popularity of some of these designs, especially when the latest (bullion) issues can be purchased by collectors ungraded for $116,” Haynes said.

Maben said that there are key differences between collectors’ and investors’ views on the America the Beautiful 5-ounce coin program, though.

“Pure bullion buyers who are adding precious metals to their portfolio don’t buy the ATB 5-ounce coins,” he said.

They buy other silver coins, silver bullion bars or even a 1 ounce gold bar. A 1 ounce gold bar is much easier to store than the equivalent in ATB 5-ounce bullion coins, he said.

“However, a heavy hitter in bullion may go after a monster box of the ATB 5-ounce coins because it is smaller than a monster box of silver American Eagles. They may purchase a box of each new ATB release just to store away,” he said.

Diversification is also a factor for investors to consider the series, he said.

“There are bullion investors who want a little bit of everything and will buy some ATB bullion 5-ounce coins,” Maben said.

Haynes said some silver buyers seeking to expand their portfolio with the ATB 5-ounce coins become collectors themselves.

“It has crossed boundaries when the silver buyers look to buy it for the silver and then begin to collect the series,” he said.

Their interest in the series includes both a collector and investor reason for buying the series, he said.

“It’s a combination of the silver content, where it has a good weight and feel to it, and the designs in the series,” he said.

The addition of silver buyers as well as new collectors to the series would lead to a strong market for the coins, he said.

“I would say sales are going to go up as more people begin coin collecting and discover that the U.S. Mint created a 5-ounce coin, something they have never heard of. So, they buy one and discover there’s a whole series of America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coins to collect,” Haynes said.

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• Build an impressive collection with Coin Collecting 101.