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New U.S. Bullion Coins; Who Cares?
September 10, 2009

When next year's quarter program honoring national parks and other sites in 50 states and six other territorial jurisdictions of the United States begins, a parallel issue will also kick in. It is a series of coins you won't be able to acquire at the local bank.

As each new quarter is released, the program also authorizes the striking of another version of the design on .999 fine silver blanks with diameters double the size of the old Morgan silver dollar.

The even troy weight of the new issue will be five ounces. At the present $16.28 price, the bullion value alone will be $81.40.

When issued by the U.S. Mint, even as a bullion coin there will be a mark-up. That will bring the cost up, but to what? $90, $100, $110?

I think the whole thing makes a joke of American coinage, but then the solons in Congress thought otherwise and tucked the provision into the quarter bill.

Will bullion investors flock to it?

Why would they do so? The American Eagle is so much more widely traded and recognizable.

There is a value to being familiar. Five new five-ounce coins a year runs roughshod over the concept.

It seems to me that the design changes are intended to try to make collectors think they need to buy them.

How many will be willing to spend $500 a year or more on such a item that can only be described as little better than a novelty?

It also pays to remember that silver could rise in price between now and the conclusion of the program in 2021.

On the other hand, if high cost daunts enough collectors, the next generation of hobbyists might have a very low mintage series to look at when the program concludes more than 11 years from now.

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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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