On March 15, the United States Mint released the six Breast Cancer Awareness commemorative coins. In a departure from previous programs, all three coin sizes share the same obverse and reverse design. The six coins are mint state and proof examples of a clad half dollar, a silver dollar, and a $5 gold coin. The gold coins are made of a brand-new composition of 85% gold and 14.8% copper and 0.2% zinc, differing from the traditional 90% gold and 10% copper. This new alloy gives the coin a pink hue, representing the color of the breast cancer cause. Undoubtedly these coins have crossover potential, and there are already promotional programs in place to bring these coins to the widest possible audience. Both NGC and PCGS have participated in the event with special pink holders.
THIS WEEK’S MARKET
This week continues the review of this heavily traded series that began four weeks ago. While there has been increases, which we will get to, this series is one that is seemingly not sharing in the demand that many others are enjoying in the current rare coin market. The reasons are not immediately apparent. At the most basic level, there is a surplus of Morgans on the market. Put another way, demand is seemingly lacking. Evidence of this is our observation of both coins selling below Greysheet bid in public auction and dealer offerings of coins on the wholesale market for asking prices below bid. Many of the price decreases are at the Gem (MS65) level. A little over a year ago price drops at the MS65 and MS66 level could be attributed to a sharp increase in the population numbers for multiple dates, primarily scarce (but not rare) better dates. However, since that time the consensus is that the major third-party grading services have “tightened up” so it is reasonable to assume there is not any substantial number of them being made. Some dates, such as 1894, 1895-O, 1886-S, and 1887-S (in mint state) have declined. Perhaps some of the high valuations of these dates were in the past more down to tradition rather than actual supply versus demand.
One bright spot in the series has been the 1892-S. A well-known rarity in mint state, over the past year there has been six uncirculated pieces sold with strong results. It is interesting that there are no CAC stickered 1892-S’s in MS65 or MS66 but there are three at MS67. It will be very interesting to see what the ex. Jack Lee MS68 will bring when someday it crosses the auction block again.
To conclude, Morgan dollars will continue to be the most popular of all U.S. coin series, and the current malaise may simply be the perfect opportunity for a collector to take a careful contrarian approach and start building a set. While other series like most of the gold types and early copper are a bit crowded, this could be a beneficial long-term approach.