Written by: Tony Davis
In a recent piece for Money.org, we discussed the reasons why we thought that the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins would be a smashing success, and it turns out we were right. On the first day of issuance, the U.S. Mint sold out of their 50,000 allotment of proof and uncirculated gold coins, and the secondary market for these coins is very strong, with prices nearly $300 above the original issuance price. While we discussed some of the reasons why we thought the coins would be a success, we wanted to take a step back and highlight what we believe are four essential factors to a successful commemorative coin in hopes of providing you with guidance in your future coin endeavors.
Image that Resonates
First and foremost, for a commemorative coin to be a success in the collectible coin market, the coin must depict an image that resonates with collectors. Iconic images such as those displayed on the 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle and the 2001 American buffalo silver coin have helped to catapult these coins to the top of the commemorative coin market. In particular, the 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle commemorates the St. Gaudens gold coin, which is one of the most beautiful coins ever to be minted, and is a must for the collection of any serious coin collector. The 2001 American Buffalo silver coin commemorates the iconic image of a Native American on the front of a Buffalo nickel and an American bison on the reverse, which is a highly collectible coin.
Anytime you can reach individuals that have historically not purchased commemorative coins, you greatly increase the chances of a successful issue. This is one of the points that we highlighted in our previous article on the 2014 National Hall of Fame commemorative coins. While in recent years, baseball has taken a bit of a backseat to football, any sports fan in their 40s or older likely has fond memories of baseball, especially prior to free agency having such a major impact on the sport. Whether it's memories of your favorite team making the playoffs, attending games in person or meeting your baseball hero on the diamond or at a card show, most individuals have an indelible baseball memory that has helped to spur interest in these coins. We're of the opinion that a commemorative football coin would also have a major impact on the hobby and look forward to the possibility of this coin being issued by the U.S. Mint at some point in the future.
With continual improvement in technology, the U.S. Mint is no longer limited to standard-sized and shaped coins. Case in point is the unique shape and design of the 2009 Ultra High Relief double eagle gold coin, which has a shorter diameter and greater thickness than most modern issued gold coins. However, what makes this coin especially appealing is the beautiful high relief features that helps to bring this coin to life. A more recent example of an appealing design and shape is the aforementioned National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin, which is the first ever domed shaped coin minted by the U.S. Mint, and only the second ever domed shaped coin produced by a world mint. Considering the success of the recently issued baseball commemorative coins, we would expect for the U.S. Mint to use a similar design on future commemorative coins. The unique shape and design of these coins has clearly added to their appeal and interest in the numismatic coin market.
Last but not least, the number of coins issued is as important, if not more important than the image, crossover appeal and design or shape of the coin. Even highly popular commemorative coins will eventually lose value or reach a ceiling in terms of their price if a large number of coins are produced. While many individuals in the numismatic coin market have criticized the U.S. Mint for only producing a limited number of Hall of Fame baseball gold coins, we're of the opinion that this decision will ultimately benefit this particular commemorative coin. The limited production numbers should help to maintain a high level of interest in the coins, which subsequently will translate into strong pricing. Even though most coin collectors primarily purchase commemorative coins for their collectible value, it's always an added benefit when your purchase appreciates in value as opposed to the alternative.
In conclusion, we've highlighted four essential factors that determine the success of a commemorative coin. Firstly, the coin must strike a cord with the coin collecting community, which oftentimes can be accomplished by using an iconic image. Secondly, anytime a coin has crossover appeal to other fields/interests, demand is likely to be high. Thirdly, a unique design or shape will help to generate interest that may have not been there otherwise. Last but not least, the number of coins produced will have an impact on the long term value or appreciation of commemorative coins. Taking into consideration the above factors should help to improve your chances of identifying winning commemorative coins.
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers.