The Mint is hearing the average collector’s cry that he prefers silver coins to those made of gold.
But can it really do anything about it?
Certainly, it is trying.
Gold is quite a bit more expensive than silver, presently 71 times more. This is a fact average collectors are acutely aware of.
However the state of American law ties the Mint up in knots.
Last Thursday a new one-ounce Liberty gold coin was unveiled at the Treasury.
It will help celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Mint come April 2.
Why not a silver coin instead?
Currently, the Treasury secretary, the Mint’s boss, has the legal authority to issue new gold coins at will.
What the Treasury secretary doesn’t have is the legal authority to issue silver coins at will.
So we get another new gold coin in 2017.
This follows the three Centennial gold pieces, the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter and Walking Liberty half dollar of 2016.
Many collectors feel these 2016 issues should have been made in silver as the original coins were. But the law is the law.
What’s the Mint to do?
This year it will strike a one-ounce silver medal with the new Liberty design on it.
Collectors historically have been reluctant to buy silver medals simply because they are not coins.
Last year there was a silver medal version of another high-relief Liberty Head $100 gold coin.
It sold out.
But its sales were limited to 12,500 pieces each from the San Francisco and West Point Mints, or 25,000 total.
This compares to 49,325 of the original gold Liberty coin, which was issued in 2015.
Silver coins would sell multiples of the gold total, not fractions.
But the Mint’s hands are tied.
Congress says the Mint can issue new gold coins, but not new silver coins.
And the Mint and its boss, the Treasury secretary, has to do what Congress says.
It’s the law.
New gold coins it is then.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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