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On November 30 the U.S. Mint began selling the bullion version of the 2015 Saratoga National Historical Park 5 oz. silver coin to its network of authorized purchasers, who distribute the coins within the marketplace. This coin is the fifth and final release for 2015 of the 5-oz. silver America the Beautiful coin series. That same day, just a couple hours after orders began to be taken, the Mint report it had already sold out of its entire allocation of 45,000 of these coins.
On November 30 the U.S. Mint began selling the bullion version of the 2015 Saratoga National Historical Park 5 oz. silver coin to its network of Authorized Purchasers, who distribute the coins within the marketplace. This coin is the fifth and final release for 2015 of the 5 oz. silver America the Beautiful coin series.
That same day, just a couple hours after orders began to be taken, the Mint report it had already sold out of its entire allocation of 45,000 of these coins. The other 2015 bullion coins in this series also sold out very quickly, but not quite that fast.
Then on December 3, the Mint began selling the collector version of the Saratoga coin, which has a “P” Mint mark for the Philadelphia Mint, where it is produced, and features a vapor-blasted matte finish that is a result of a process known as vapor blasting.
Both versions of these coins are struck at the Philadelphia Mint, but the bullion coins do not carry a Mint mark and have a brilliant finish. While the bullion coins are sold to the Mint’s distributors, the collector versions are sold directly to the public at a fixed premium over the silver content of the coins.
Some collectors have indicated they feel the price of the “P” coins should have decreased with lower silver prices, but the Mint has kept the price at more than twice the melt value of the coins yet sales have remained robust. In fact, they would probably have been even higher, but the even stronger performance of the bullion coins has reduced the number of collector coins the Mint could sell.
The 2015 collector versions of these coins in theory have a mintage limit of 30,000 coins. But in practice, the limit has been no more than 20,000 coins. That is because there is a ceiling for combined sales of both versions of each coin of 65,000 units. So when the bullion coin sells 45,000 pieces, that means a maximum of 20,000 of the “P” version can be issued.
In addition, the Mint does not usually produce the entire maximum allocation of a collector coin. Instead it makes them in batches based on demand.
During its first four days of availability, the “P” Saratoga coin sold a very strong 17,053 coins, leaving less than 3,000 coins before a sell-out, and possibly only a few hundred given the fact that the Blue Ridge National Park coin became unavailable when it reached sales of 17,475. The same may have happened with the Saratoga.
On December 9, the seventh day the coins were available from the Mint, the Saratoga “P” was marked as “unavailable,” which is different from coins marked as being backordered that will return. Based on recent experience with the Mint’s new order management system and website, it is very likely the coin is gone, though a small number of additional coins were sold on December 12. It may not be declared officially sold out for some time, but at this point the coin is for all practical purposes only available in the secondary market.
Given the number of coins it could issue, current total sales, and the Mint’s practice of producing coins in batches, it is extremely unlikely more coins will be issued at this point.
The Saratoga coins pays tribute not just to the national park located there, but also to the important historic event the park commemorates. At Saratoga in the autumn of 1777, American forces met, defeated, and forced a major British army to surrender. This crucial American victory renewed patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the face of the world. The battlefield, a monument to the fallen, and the restored country house of American General Philip Schuyler make up the three sites of Saratoga National Historical Park. It was established as a national site in 1938.
The obverse of each coin in this series features the John Flanagan portrait of President George Washington, while the reverse shows a close-up depiction of British General John Burgoyne’s surrender to American General Horatio Gates at the Battle of Saratoga in the fall of 1777.
The British general is shown handing his sword to the American general and next to it is the inscription, “BRITISH SURRENDER 1777” and along the inside of the rim are inscriptions for “SARATOGA, NEW YORK,” “2015,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” are placed along the rim.
Ironically, some collectors indicated prior to the launch of the Saratoga coins that they expected it to be a slow seller and possibly a lower mintage issue because the design is rather plain and does not show an image of the actual park, as other issues in the series do.
Some people have speculated that strong sales of this issue came from collectors in New York State, where the park is located, and members of the military. Both factors probably played a role.
A combination of increasing demand from collectors for these coins, lower silver prices that made the bullion issues especially attractive, and demand from dealers and other sellers who saw good potential in the “P” issue combined to produce the fastest sell-outs to date for both versions of the 5 oz. silver coins.
While the Saratoga collector coins are not one of the lowest mintage for the entire series, the fact that the coins sold out so quickly should support a healthy market for the coins in the future.
Some collectors did not get an order in before the coins sold out, so they will need to purchase them at higher prices on the secondary market.
Historically, unexpected and quick sell-outs of some Mint products have resulted in strong retail prices.
MCM currently carries the bullion coins both raw and in NGC Deep Mirror Prooflike 69 (Early Releases and First Releases) as well as the collector version in NGC SP69 and 70 (also Early Releases and First Releases).
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|