By William Brownstein
For those of you who bought the 2012-S 75th anniversary set, congratulations. I think recent experience with two prior issues indicates it will be a winner.
For those of you who missed out on buying a set, I suggest that if you believe my analysis that follows, that you make your purchase on the secondary market soon, before the prices escalate as has been the case with all prior limited-issue Eagles.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the present San Francisco Mint facility, a special two-coin silver American Eagle proof set that contains a proof and a reverse proof 2012-S silver Eagle coin was issued for the 28-day period that started on June 7, 2012, and ended on July 5. The purchase price was $149.95.
Whether the issue was to placate the public over the debacle involving the limited mintage for the 2011 25th anniversary American Eagle set, or to recognize the 75th anniversary of the opening of the new San Francisco Mint, or both, the Mint announced unlimited mintages during the limited ordering period of 28 days.
The timing occurred during the start of summer vacation and shortly after the last week of school for parents of school children, and the day after the Fourth of July holiday. Those dates potentially may have turned out to be a blessing or a curse as potential purchasers might have had other things on their minds other than to buy one of the many U.S. Mint issues.
Both 2012-S Eagles are .999 fine silver. One is a traditional proof strike with high points frosted and a mirror-like field, and the other is a reverse proof, meaning the high points are mirror-like and the fields are frosted. This is the first S-mint reverse proof coin and the other Eagle, a traditional proof, are only available as part of the two-coin set and they were a must for anyone wanting a complete set of silver American Eagles, a series that commenced in 1986.
Like the predecessor silver Eagle coin issues in 1995 with the “W” mintmark, the 2006 Reverse Proof Eagle, which was only available as part of the three-coin proof set and the 2011 25th Anniversary set, which consisted of five Eagles, with two Eagles unique to that set, the reverse proof Philadelphia Mint Eagle and San Francisco Mint burnished Eagle, the only way to purchase these 2012-S limited issue coins was as part of the two- coin set.
There were only two prior times in history that the U.S. Mint issued reverse proof silver Eagles. The first time was in 2006 in order to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the American Eagle, with an issuance that required the purchase of a three-coin set, with no announced mintage limit. The second time was as part of the issuance of a five-coin set in 2011, this time commemorating the 25th anniversary of the silver Eagle. Unlike the 2006 issue, which was unlimited during an unspecified ordering period, but which had total sales of 248,875, when they were taken off sale, the 2011 issue was limited to an issue of 100,000 sets, a household order limit of five sets, and it sold out during the first hours it was offered for sale.
As noted, in order to get the two coins issued only as part of the five-coin 2011 set collectors had to pay $299.99 for the full set. There were many disappointed collectors who were unable to get a set even though they were on the phone or tried through the Internet from the announced time of the U.S. Mint availability at 12 p.m. Eastern Time on Oct. 27, 2011, until the coins sold out a few hours later.
The 2006 set had an initial issue price of $100. The three coins in the set were a reverse proof, a standard uncirculated Eagle and a regular proof Eagle. As noted below, the reported prices of the 20th Anniversary designated coins in some cases have a huge premium over the non-20th anniversary designated coins, possibly due to the fact that collectors did not bother to leave the sets sealed and graded, resulting in no way to differentiate between 20th anniversary set coins and the regular version.
The original issue price for the regular 2006 proof Eagle was $27.95 and the burnished uncirculated coin was available that year for $19.95. For purposes of determining the actual cost of the 2006 reverse proof issue, I am deducting the $47.90 ($27.95 + $19.95 = $47.90) price that the two otherwise available Eagles were priced in 2006 to determine the actual cost for the 2006 reverse proof issue. Subtracting the $47.90 from the $100 sales price leaves the price of the 2006 reverse proof Eagle at $52.10.
In 2006 the price of an ounce of silver ranged from a low of roughly $10 to a high of approximately $14 an ounce. With an effective issue price of $52.10 for the 2006 reverse proof Eagle, the premium over a silver price of the $14 high for that year was 2.72 times silver value ($52.10/$14=2.72), 1.72 times if you deduct the actual price of silver in the reverse proof Eagle.
The 2006 reverse proof Eagle, mintage of 248,875 was included with a set that included the regular proof Eagle, which had a mintage in the 20th Anniversary set of 248,875 of the final mintage of 1,092,477, and a burnished uncirculated version which had a mintage in the 20th Anniversary set of 248,875 of the final mintage of 466,573 and they are only distinguishable if the sets remained sealed in the original Mint packaging and certified by a recognized grading service.
Professional Coin Grading Service prices the 2006-P reverse proof Eagle in Proof-69 and Proof-70 at $285 and $585, respectively, and for those with the First Strike Designation at $310 and $600, respectively.
For the 2006-W 20th anniversary burnished uncirculated Eagle, PCGS prices range from $80 and $725 in MS-69 and MS-70, respectively, and $135 and $2,050 for those designated as First Strike.
The 2006-W 20th anniversary proof Eagle is shown as having a value of $75 and $185 and $84 and $250 for those having a First Strike designation in Proof-69 and Proof-70, respectively.
The issue price for the 2011-W regular proof Eagle was $59.95, the burnished Eagle $45.95 and the regular issue Eagle, only available through authorized dealers, except for those in the 25th Anniversary set, was priced at $30.76 as shown on www.apmex.com.
Therefore, after deducting the cost of the three regular issue Eagles of $136.66 ($59.95+$45.95+30.76=$136.66) from the $299.95 issue price for the five Eagle set, the two limited issue coins, the 2011-S burnished uncirculated and the 2011-P reverse proof, results in a cost of $163.29 for the pair, making the price for each individual piece approximately $81.65.
The five-coin set was housed in a beautiful wooden presentation case, the use of which is questionable to someone who had their set graded by a recognized grading service. In fact, the plastic cases that housed the silver Eagles have been sold on the secondary market among dealers for $1 each, as they are not necessary after the Eagle coins are returned from authorized grading services.
PCGS prices the 2011-S 25th anniversary Eagle at $260 and $440 in MS-69 and MS-70, respectively, and the 2011-S First Strike at $315 and $450, respectively.
The 2011-P 25th anniversary reverse proof Eagle is shown as having a value of $240 and $375 for issues graded Proof-69 and Proof-70 with the 25th anniversary Eagle designation, and they are priced at $285 and $500 for those with the First Strike designation and $335 and $625 in the grades of Proof-69 and Proof-70, respectively.
In the case of the otherwise regular issue Eagles, which were included in the 2011 25th anniversary set, as long as PCGS designates them as being part of a 25th anniversary set, they are priced at $75 and $175 and $100 and $240 for the regular proof issues in MS-69 and MS-70 and those with a First Strike designation, respectively.
The 2011-W 25th anniversary uncirculated Eagle in MS-69 and MS-70 and those designated as MS-69 and MS-70 First Strike, are priced by PCGS at $75, $120, $90 and $170, respectively.
Finally, the 2011 regular strike designated as the 25th anniversary issue is priced at $50 and $85 and $52 and $90 in those graded as MS-69 and MS-70 and those designated as First Strike in grades MS-69 and MS-70, respectively.
With silver closing at $33.55 an ounce on Oct. 27, 2011, the premium over the price of silver for the 2011 25th anniversary issue was 2.434 times ($81.65/$33.55=2.43352) 1.434 if you deduct the actual price of silver in the reverse proof Eagle.
The issue price of the two-coin 2012-S American Eagle set was $149.95. The price of an ounce of silver fluctuated from $27.59 on the issuance date of June 28, 2012, to $27.80 an ounce on July 5, 2012, the last day it could be ordered, which makes the premium for the two-ounce set using an issue price of $149.95 approximately 2.70 times ($149.95/$27.80/2 =2.69694), 1.70 times if you deduct the price of silver in the two-Eagle set. That results in a premium for the 2012-S Eagle at a slightly higher level than that for the 2011 25th anniversary issue, with the notable exception that when buying this limited edition product, you are not forced to buy Eagles that are otherwise regularly available, which was the case with the 2006 20th anniversary edition and the 2011 25th anniversary edition.
There are four other times in modern history when limited edition silver Eagles were issued, three were intentional and one accidental. The first time was for the 1995-W proof Eagle, only available if it was purchased as part of the $999 five-piece gold proof set, which had a mintage of only 30,525; the 2006 20th anniversary reverse proof dollar with a final mintage of 248,875; the 2008-W Burnished Eagle, which had the reverse of the 2007, a modern mint error, which had an announced mintage of 47,000; the two Eagles, one a reverse proof 2011-P and the other a 2011-S burnished Eagle, each with a mintage of 100,000, and the 2012-S proof and reverse proof Eagles, which, as of 3 p.m. E.T. on July 6, 2012, had sales of 250,738 coins shown on the website published at www.usmint.gov.
The U.S. Mint made it easy to keep track of the 2012-S Eagles ordered by publishing the cumulative orders as of 3 p.m. E.T. daily at its website at www.usmint.gov. The mintages published on July 5, 2012, at 2 p.m. E.T. were 250,738. There are two unique coins in the set, which was issued at only a slight premium over the 2012-W regular proof Eagle, which is currently priced at $59.95, and with that set the U.S. Mint opened a real potential for huge appreciation over its issue price as best illustrated by the prices for the 2006 and 2011 reverse proofs.
I believe that even with the 28-day ordering period, buyers of this set will find it to be a real winner. They stand to realize a significant return on their investment if the 20th anniversary and the 25th anniversary issues for 2006 and 2011, respectively, are viable indicators of a sizable return on an investment in what is otherwise an overly saturated issuance of U.S. Mint products.