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History Has High Price
February 26, 2008

What do these numbers have in common? $429.95, $529.95 and $619.95?

How about $410.95, $509.95 and $599.95?

You probably figured out that these are the issue prices for First Spouse gold coins. The first set of three were the proof coin issue prices. The first proof price was the initial cost of buying Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson Liberty design half-ounce gold coins.

The second price was the November cost of the Dolley Madison proof gold coin.

The $619.95 is the price buyers will have to pay starting Thursday, Feb. 28, for the Elizabeth Monroe proofs.

For the uncirculated coins the sequence is similar. The first three had the lowest price, the fourth issue the middle price and now the fifth issue has a yet higher price.

The rising price of gold bullion, which closed at $937.60 an ounce yesterday, is the culprit. The proof price is now more than 44 percent higher than the initial cost while the uncirculated price is 46 percent higher.

What will these higher prices do to sales? Already we have seen the Dolley Madison coin not sell out. It was the issue that sported the first price hike. More than three months after sales began, approximately 25,000 of 40,000 possible have been taken.

Will Elizabeth Monroe fall further behind? Probably. Not only are rising prices against the issue, so is history. As we get further and further away from the beginning, the novelty wears off and sales tend to weaken. By the time we get to Millard Fillmore's wife, what kind of demand will there be?

For most of us, that will be the first time that we learn that his wife's name was Abigail. (Yes, I had to look it up.) But that probably will be an insufficient reason to make the purchase.

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Recent Comments
On February 28, 2008 Tom Howze said
In the past few months, gold prices are moving up like they were shot out of a cannon. But as there is no solid reason for gold prices to stop rising, eventually today's higher prices will become tomorrow's bargain. Over time I believe they will sell, just not as fast as the US Mint wants them to.

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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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