The National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemoratives appear to be one of the US Mint's most popular coinage issued to date.
I primarily deal in vintage United States coinage. This includes most coins struck from 1793 to around 1934. As mentioned many times in these articles, modern coins have become a larger and larger part of the rare coin business. For several years I have followed the United States Mint’s offering of special issue coinage. Many issues have been produced with limited mintages and even more importantly many have been offered with household limits on sales. Some have been a huge success, others have been recognized failures. Most Silver Eagle offerings have performed extremely well, others such as the First Spouse coinage have been disappointing.
A few weeks ago the United States Mint offered the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative coinage. The Mint offered the following options for this commemorative series: a clad half dollar in uncirculated and Proof, a silver dollar in uncirculated and Proof, and gold $5 in uncirculated and Proof. The coins were being struck for the first time on concave planchets, a technology first employed by the Australian Mint a few years ago. The obverse features a baseball glove and the reverse is an incredibly accurate rendition of a baseball. These coins are the perfect use of the concave coining technology.
Several weeks ago the Mint began promotion of the new coins which would debut at the Whitman Coin Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. The offering prices seemed reasonable for the various versions. The half dollars were around $20, the silver dollars were about $50 and the gold coins were priced at $420 each. Lines began to form as soon as the Mint began selling coins. Most dealers were distracted by business on opening day and simply ignored the brewing action at the Mint's booth. The gold coins quickly sold out and by the next day the silver dollars allocated for the show were sold.
NGC offered a Baseball Hall of Fame logo label and special pedigree "OPENING DAY RELEASES" for coins purchased and submitted at the show. The label became an instant hit! Lines formed at the NGC booth and by the end of the show thousands of coins had been submitted. Almost instantly the coins were being sold on the secondary market for substantial profits. By the weekend the Baltimore Opening Day label coins could be found on eBay, cable TV and other retail sources. From every indication the coins were a huge success. In the following weeks the Opening Day coins have continued to rise in price.
Why the excitement? My best assessment is that these are the most interesting and popular commemorative coins the United States Mint has ever issued. The concave technology is ideal for the design. Baseball is also incredibly popular and anything associated with the Baseball Hall of Fame seems highly desirable. The mintages are also modest for the silver dollar and gold coins. Both issues have been sold out for a few weeks and have been steadily rising in price in the aftermarket. Interestingly, the Mint has been delivering the coins in stages. Live coins are extremely desirable as most of the mintage seems scheduled for delivery during the summer months.
This brings up the issue of NGC holdering the coins with Early Releases and First Releases. The current cut off for these designations is May 8. As can be expected, demand for live coins in the next few weeks will be quite intense. The NGC National Baseball Hall of Fame label will continue to be offered past the Early Releases and First Releases cutoff date.
As mentioned above my primary business is vintage coinage. My interest in modern coins has been an on-again and off-again affair. I can firmly state, however, that the National Baseball Hall of fame coin is one of the most exciting coins to come along in years. Hopefully this extremely popular coin will attract new collectors to numismatics. It would be especially helpful if the Baseball coins attracted more young collectors to the hobby. We should all thank the United State Mint for producing a cutting edge numismatic product. There will undoubtedly be many new collectors interested in coin collecting as a result.
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