When the U.S. Mint begins to sell Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins next year, it will mark a number of firsts.
The first that everyone by now is aware of is the coins will sport a clever common design with a baseball glove on the obverse and a baseball with the familiar stitching on reverse.
Emphasizing the designs, all the coins in the set, the gold $5, the silver dollar and the clad half dollar, will be struck as “domed” coins, which in Mint parlance means that the obverse is concave, or cupped, giving the glove design realistic depth.
The reverse with the baseball design is convex, or domed, given it also a rounded, realistic appearance.
This is a first for the U.S. Mint. Never before has it struck a domed coin, let alone three different ones in three different metals.
Being first examples of this kind, these commemoratives should be more popular than recent issues. The question, as always, is how much more popular?
It pays to remember that the last time a first for the Mint became part of the commemorative series it was the year 2000 Library of Congress coin that was made as a bimetallic piece in precious metal. The outer ring is gold. The inner ring is platinum.
Buyers of this piece were rewarded over time by strong price gains. Some of this was due to the rise in the prices of precious metals, but some is due to the distinct nature of the coin. It remains the only coin of this kind in the U.S. commemorative series.
Baseball Hall of Fame coins will have a distinct nature at least until some future coin is struck this way.
Another interesting element is the Mint will offer these coins not in the usual manner. They will be made to order as the recent special American Eagle sets have been.
Collectors will have to make up their minds rather than letting purchase decisions drag out through the year.
I have pointed out that striking to order is of great advantage to the Mint as it eliminates excess inventory and makes order fulfillment more efficient.
How collectors will react to this is yet to be seen. They have reacted well to the American Eagle set order method, even using it to their own advantage in canceling orders for coins that won’t arrive in time to get first strike designation from the grading services.
This gives us all something to look forward to in 2014. If variety is the spice of life, then the Hall of Fame coin changes of pace should spice up the lives of all collectors who decide they want them.
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."