US Mint Suspends Sales of 2011 Commemorative Gold Coins

by Mike Unser on August 12, 2011 · 2 comments

Raging gold prices are disrupting United States Mint gold coin sales. The bureau on Friday stopped selling commemorative gold coins just three days after a similar suspension was implemented throughout collector pieces, including the American Gold Eagles, American Gold Buffalo and each of the First Spouse Gold Coins. The suspensions came as melt values of the coins raced toward their retail prices.

2011 Commemorative Gold Coins

The United States Mint on Friday suspended all four 2011 commemorative gold coins. Shown above are the proof and uncirculated Medal of Honor $5 coin and the proof and uncirculated U.S. Army $5 coin.


"The United States Mint has suspended sales of commemorative gold coins for re-pricing," the bureau said in a statement. "Due to the current market volatility, we will be placing these coins on a ‘pricing grid’ similar to the structure we use to price American Eagle, American Buffalo and First Spouse gold coins. A new grid specific to these coins is being developed and will be posted when complete."

The pricing grid referred to in the Mint’s suspension statement was put in place for collector gold coins back in 2009. It is a predefined listing of gold coin prices which are selected based on a weekly average of London gold fixings. (See PDF of Mint pricing grid.) There were no commemorative gold coins authorized by Congress in either 2009 or 2010, which is likely one reason the pricing system currently does not include them.

Four Coins Suspended

Four commemorative gold coins are affected by Friday’s sales suspension. They include the uncirculated and proof 2011 Medal of Honor $5 and the uncirculated and proof 2011 U.S. Army $5.

Commemorative Coin Melt Values Near Sale Prices

Until the suspensions, the proofs were each listed at a price of $454.95 while uncirculated coins were priced at $444.95. The coins each weigh 8.359 grams and have a composition of 90 percent gold, which calculates to 0.2419 troy ounces of gold per coin.

Gold prices have been extremely volatile of late. At the most recent London Fix PM price of gold on Friday of $1,736.00 an ounce, the intrinsic or melt value for each commemorative is $419.89. London gold reached as high as $1,786 an ounce on Thursday, which would have placed the melt value of the gold coins at $431.99 each. The metal in New York futures Thursday shot as high as $1,817.60 an ounce. At that price, the coins’ melt values would have been as high as $439.63 — just a few dollars away from their sale prices.

From a buyer’s perspective the commemorative gold coins have appeared, at least minimally, less expensive. The latest U.S. Mint sales figures highlight that fact as their sales pace jumped sharply.

Mandated $35 Surcharges for Commemorative Gold Coins

U.S. commemorative coins are authorized as a result of congressionally introduced legislation signed into law by the President. The coins honor a person, place, event or institution and are sold for one calendar year. Commemoratives carry a larger premium than other United States Mint collector products as they also include surcharges which are paid to organizations and projects that benefit the community — the Mint has raised $418 million since 1982. Each of this year’s commemorative gold coins includes a $35 surcharge when sold.

Melt Values + Surcharges = Suspension

When adding up the melt values and surcharges, the Mint was selling the coins for less than what it would cost to produce new ones. Thus, and while later than some were thinking, the sales suspensions were implemented.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

James August 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

Once again the mint is out to maximize profits and to heck with the collector. They could have given the public notice so the collectors who’s budgets are limited could purchase these coins at the original issue price. The mint is not going to produce any more of these coins and the price they paid to produce were at a lower gold value. This is nothing more that greed and an another example of the US mint contempt toward the collector.

Brian August 16, 2011 at 7:52 am

Game over dude. Get some bullion and quit whining about these over priced government stamped numismatics. The objective, in any bull market, is to own as many units of said asset. And since this is a huge game changer, the end of fiat currencies, you would be best served by owning as much gold as possible, in any form you can get it.

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