In the U.S. Mint’s continuing effort to create more products for use outside of currency, the organization has created a series of new silver bullion coins with the same designs as the 2010 and 2011 American the Beautiful quarters. These new coins are five-ounce .999 fine silver, unlike the coins that share the designs. While the release of the bullion was announced last year, only a few weeks ago did the Mint deliver the first set of five-ounce coins to a select list of private bullion dealers. Each yearly set consists of five coins.
This small list of companies, in order to qualify for the Mint’s direct authorized dealer program, must agree to make the coins available to the public. There is concern among dealers and collectors that with this product that is in such a high demand, mostly from speculators, that the authorized dealers are not being fair with the public, holding the coins back from the public against the spirit of the Mint’s directives.
The dollar value of silver has surged over the past few months — this might be a bad time to buy bullion in bulk. From a collector’s perspective, these products are intriguing. The Mint is not stopping with bullion, though. They will be releasing collectors’ uncirculated versions of the coins, most likely before the end of March. The Mint sells these for a premium over their intrinsic worth plus the manufacturing cost to make a profit, and if the series is popular and mintage is limited, they could provide a nice return for collectors.
The Mint would be better served by producing coins for circulation only, but as long as there are collectors with money to spend, they’ll continue creating new products for collectors, more like the Franklin Mint than the U.S. Mint.
These products are not what you should consider for a beginning collection or a coin collection for your kids.
Updated October 1, 2011 and originally published January 26, 2011.