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Here We Go Again
May 06, 2011

Did you notice that the U.S. Mint began selling its uncirculated “W” one-ounce gold American Eagles yesterday?

If you didn’t, you are not alone.

The hurricane that has blown the prices of silver and gold lower was the greater story yesterday.

Anybody who did happen to look at the new Mint offer probably turned their nose up at the price of $1,778. That was a full $300 more than bullion was quoted at on the Kitco site when I looked.

The advent of the “W” uncirculated coin means two things. The Mint is confident of getting enough gold blanks that it can offer the bullion version to Authorized Purchasers and the uncirculated and proof “W” coins to collectors.

The second thing is those three coins mean confusion for many people. For whatever reason, they cannot keep them straight.

I see this in the form of reactions to my stories.

When I report that the Mint will not sell gold American Eagle bullion coins directly to collectors, I usually get someone asking, “What do you mean? I bought one from the Mint.” That "one" is most often the “W” uncirculated, which first arrived on the scene in 2006, but it has also on occasion been the proof.

If I report at the beginning of the year that the Mint will not sell the “W” uncirculated gold American Eagle or the release date is months away, I get the “What do you mean? I saw the coin on TV last night,” referring to the bullion version.

The Mint doesn’t help. Even in its efforts to hold others to account, it uses sloppy terminology.

The bullion coin is every bit as uncirculated as the “W” version. That’s simply a term for a coin showing no wear.

What do you do?

I will simply have more occasion to repeat myself in describing the differences.

I hope would-be buyers take the time to look at what they are buying.

$1,778 is a lot of money spend on something that you don’t quite know what it is.

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Recent Comments
On May 6, 2011 harvlaser said
$1778.00 is $1.00 more than was the showroom sticker price of my 1968 VW Beetle..

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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