When the Presidential dollar series ends with the Jerry Ford issue in 2016, the First Spouse gold coin program will end with it.
At that point, all of the coins issued from Martha Washington to Betty Ford will be a known quantity.
Collectors will be able to see which ones are the rare ones. They will know what the price of gold is and will be able to find a basic value resting on the bullion price.
It is the concept of rarity that will be put on a sliding scale. Absolute rarity is simply a number. A total of 2,000 is rarer than 20,000. No other information is needed.
However, if there are fewer than 2,000 active collectors who might want to purchase the coin with the 2,000 mintage, the low number hardly matters at all as there will be a surplus on the market. The coin will trade at a value based solely on bullion.
But will that outcome be the fate of the First Spouse coins?
Each one contains a half ounce of gold.
Gold is not cheap, nor is it likely to become cheap. The value of a half ounce of gold is $613 this morning.
That’s a high price point for most collectors.
Multiply that by 38 coins and you have a pile of bullion worth $23,294 today. That’s just the proofs. Double the number to $46,588 when you add in the Mint State pieces.
Most collectors I know would look at me like I am crazy if I think they will jump into a series that has such a high cost starting point.
But it will be a starting point for somebody. Some First Spouse coins will be incredibly rare.
A series that began with buyers eagerly snapping up 20,000 pieces has been reduced to mintages that could very well end up under 2,000 each.
Lou Hoover and Eleanor Roosevelt Mint State coins are currently below 1,000 sold. This bears watching.
Some First Spouse coins will make it to Proof-70 or MS-70, but not all of the coins will.
What sort of price will the series have for a set in the absolute top grade? Should it be $100,000?
Don’t choke. $100,000 is a lot of money, no question.
However, if the first Kennedy gold half dollar sold at the Chicago American Numismatic Association can bring such a price, a full set of gold coins with 38 troy ounces of the precious metal in top grades also should be in the running for such a price.
Gold will not always be at $1,226 a troy ounce.
Sure, it can fall lower. But what do you think it will be in five years’ time or 10 years’ time?
Clearly the fires of collector enthusiasm has waned for First Spouse coins, but for those who consider rarity, top grades and underlying bullion potential, now might be time to start picking through the embers.
You might end up with something that you are not only proud to own, but a worthwhile investment, too.
Somebody is going to do this. Is that somebody you?
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."