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Panama Issues Breast Cancer Awareness Coins
December 05, 2008

Pink for Panama - Breast Cancer Awareness Coins

In October, Panama released their 2008 Breast Cancer Awareness coins at a special reception hosted by the First Lady. The three issues are very similar to the Canadian types struck two years ago. In fact, the Royal Canadian Mint struck these coins for Panama and used some of the same special packaging they used on their own coins.

The standard circulation coin is a quarter Balboa struck in copper-nickel clad copper and was available at the banks in Panama. Just this month, I noticed that new issues dealer Lauren Benson, Inc. offered this same coin on their list for $1.65, so acquiring an example here in the U.S. should be easy. By way of comparison, the Canadian circulating Breast Cancer Awareness coin from 2006 is currently available on eBay from many sellers for $1 or less, making it an even simpler acquisition, but one not likely to increase in value at any point in the near future.

On the other hand, Panama's two special issue packages may be much more difficult for most collectors to obtain. One offers the copper-nickel clad copper strike enclosed in a laminate bookmark. This is very similar to the special packaging used by Canada for their 2006 Breast Cancer Awareness coin. It's a great marketing piece, allowing coins to be distributed through bookstore venues to increase sales and raise awareness. I thought it was a wonderful way to open up coin collecting to a new audience.

The third type for Panama's Breast Cancer Awareness coins is a beautiful copper-nickel clad proof strike, with pink enamel on the ribbon. This type is limited to a mintage of 2500, comes with a numbered specification card and is housed in a capsule in a red plush case. At the reception the cased proof coin was offered for sale at $50, with excellent sales amidst much commotion. Afterwards, the Central Bank took over distribution and as of this week I am told that very few pieces remain available for sale. The current Central Bank price is $100, making this coin a prime candidate for lively secondary market value increases.

Again, to compare, the 2006 Canadian proof silver $5 Breast Cancer Canada Awareness coin, sells at or around $50, very near its issue price. The difference is in the mintage, which was just above 11,000 for the Canadian $5 piece, over four times the limit of the Panama quarter. The other differences are in collector market demand and the number of commemorative types issued. Panama has a very dedicated collector base and lately they have not over saturated the market with commemorative coins.

Moving forward though, the new 2008 Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Breast Cancer Awareness coin seems to be right on track. This is a lovely, very low mintage coin, with good eye appeal and nice intrinsic value. The Maple leaf on this coin is green and the pink ribbon wraps it up nicely. If you want one, better act fast, as the distributor, Universal Coins, states that the mintage is limited to 500 pieces. Universal offers this SML at $64.95 on their website, but they also have a few on eBay at a lower opening bid.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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