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New silver coin option catching on

The 2013 White Mountain 5-ounce silver American the Beautiful bullion coin has sold out at a mintage of 35,000.

Sales of three other 2013 designs continue and the final design of 2013 has yet to be sold to the U.S. Mint’s Authorized Purchaser network.

Mintages are higher this year than last year, so 2012 might just prove to be the point at which mintages bottomed out.

Sales of the 2013 Perry’s Victory, Great Basin and Fort McHenry currently stand at 25,000 each. The Mint says the maximum number of these that will be sold will be 30,000.

The final design of 2013 will honor Mount Rushmore. Perhaps because it is a well-known landmark, the Mint has set a sales maximum for this bullion coin at 35,000.

The highest mintage for any of the 2012 designs was 25,400 for Acadia National Park. The lowest was 20,000 for both the Hawai’i and Denali issues. Falling in between were El Yunque at 24,000 and Chaco Culture at 24,400.

Bullion coins are supposed to be a convenient way of owning bullion because it comes in a well-known familiar coin form of known weight and fineness.

We can debate whether a series with 56 designs is a true bullion coin series, but whatever we finally decide, it is a true collector series.

Remember the frantic rush to buy the first issues of 2010? Their mintages were 33,000 apiece. This makes the 2012 issues scarcer.

At the moment you can put a collection together at prices that are lower than they were at the time of issue and they are a silver investment to boot.

I expect the reason for the rise in mintages for the 2013 issues is collectors are realizing this and jumping into it.

Why collect bullion coins when the collector versions are out there? Well, since I still think like a circulation finds collector of the 1960s, my first impulse is to set the goal as a complete set, which means both bullion coins and collector coins that have the “P” mintmark.

Collectors can also decide what grade to collect. Will they want -70s, or -69s or even something lower? Virtually all of the other coins in my collection are lower than -68, so why does that sound so inferior in this context? It isn’t really. It’s just collectors have grade choices that have not been possible in the past. Take advantage of them. Take advantage of current reasonable prices. Come 2021 when the series ends, you will be glad you did.

You will also have the basis for a heck of an exhibit at that year’s American Numismatic Association convention. The set will be 112 coins that weigh a total of 560 troy ounces.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."