The third Presidential silver medal was put on sale Friday by the U.S. Mint.
What? You didn’t notice?
I will bet you were following the Apollo 11 program coin offers, weren’t you?
I certainly was.
The one troy ounce piece is .999 fine silver.
It looks like an Indian Peace medal. It is historic.
The Mint does not know who designed the obverse, but the reverse was done by John Reich.
You can also still buy the George Washington and John Adams medals if you would like them.
Sales figures for both of these will give you an idea how the Jefferson piece will fare.
Buyers have taken 17,091 of the Washington pieces.
They have acquired 13,083 Adams medals.
While Jefferson is likely to reach the higher Washington level of demand, we know demand would be far higher if it were a coin.
Medals are the Cinderellas of numismatics.
But there is a catch.
As beautiful as they are, they are aren’t invited to the ball.
They are medals.
If these were coins, sales numbers would multiply.
The Washington, Adams, and Jefferson Presidential dollar coins sold to collectors numbered in the millions.
No such outcome awaits these medals.
Even the First Spouse gold half-ounce coins that accompanied the Presidential dollar coins had higher mintages for these three Presidents despite issue prices of more than 10 times the cost of this medal.
But they were coins
Yes, I know that demand for the half-ounce gold coins fell from the 40,000 initial figures to just 5,000-6,000.
That fate awaits future medals for the less well known and less popular Presidents.
It is baked in the cake.
It is laudable that the Mint is attempting to make medals popular.
The Mint is the only institution that can move the needle even a little.
However, moving the needle a little bit is not likely to be rewarded by anybody.
There will be no line in the biography of the current Mint director that he made medal collecting popular.
But he is to be commended, nevertheless, for trying.
My blog won’t make a difference to medal popularity, either.
So I return you now to your thoughts about Apollo 11 coins.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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