April 4th, the U.S. Mint sold out of their Congratulations Set that included the 2017-S Proof Silver Eagles in under two minutes. This marks the fastest U.S. Mint sell-out in history causing desire for 2017 Proof Silver Eagles with an "S" mintmark continue to rise.
Last week, an unexpected development was announced quietly when the Mint indicated that the 2017 Congratulations coin set, to be released on April 4, 2017, would include an American Silver Eagle struck not at West Point, where proof versions of this coin have been struck since 2001, but instead, a coin produced at the San Francisco Mint with an “S” Mint mark.
As news of this spread throughout the numismatic community in the past week, interest quickly grew in a set that was typically purchased to give as a gift, rather than something serious collectors need since it normally includes a coin that can be obtained separately and in other products.
Interest quickly grew as thousands of collectors immediately desired the 2017-S American Silver Eagle proof coin. As only the second coin from the San Francisco Mint issued since 1992, (after the special 2012-S coin that was part of the 75th anniversary San Francisco Mint two-coin set), collectors immediately saw an opportunity to add something unique to their collection with this release.
In 2012, the Mint also sold the 2012-S coin in its “Making American History” set that was paired with a $1 San Francisco Federal Reserve note and was limited to 50,000 units. Many collectors were upset that they were not told when the San Francisco set was sold that the 2012-S coin would also be included in a second set.
To avoid a similar situation from developing last week, the Mint announced that the 2017 Limited Edition Silver Proof Set to be released later this year will also include the 2017-S proof Silver Eagle. Those sets normally include all the silver proof coins the Mint issues each year, including the proof Silver Eagle issued at West Point. This year’s Limited Edition Silver Proof Set may include the 2017-W proof Silver Eagle issued earlier in the year.
The Mint has not announced if that set’s mintage will be increased beyond the usual limit of 50,000 sets, but many collectors have speculated that it will because of the inclusion of the 2017-S eagle, whose mintage is set to be one of the lowest of the entire series. If so, that number, plus the 75,000 in the Congratulations sets, will determine the final mintage of the 2017-S proof Silver eagle.
Even if the Limited Edition Set mintage was doubled to 100,000, as a product that often sells under 50,000 units and will probably cost in the range of $200, the final mintage of the 2017-S would be in the range of 175,000 and possibly more like 125-150K. In either case, that will make it the 4th lowest mintage coin in the 31-year history of the series, or if the 2007/2008-W burnished coin (with a mintage of 46,318 coins) is also included, the 5th lowest.
Moreover, there is likely to be a large mintage gap between the 2017-S and 5th-lowest coin, the 2013-W burnished uncirculated issue, with a mintage of 221,981 that is likely to be substantially higher than the 2017-S.
Plus, the 2011 25th Anniversary Set, which included two coins, the 2011-S and 2011-P reverse proof with mintages just under 100,000 coins and sold out in less than 5 hours, resulting in a great deal of criticism of the Mint for setting the mintage level too low given how widely collected this series is. So, it is not likely we will see another coin or set for the series with a mintage set that low. Both of those 2011 coins do sell for a strong premium.
The 2017-S is expected to be the second lowest proof Silver Eagle after the very rare 1995-W that sells for thousands of dollars since the two coins from the 2011 25th anniversary set are reverse proof and mint state coins.
Additionally, PCGS and NGC have announced that only the 2017-S coins from the Congratulations sets will be eligible for First Strike and Early Release labels and coins in these sets will have that designated on the label.
As the April 4th launch of the Congratulations approached, many collectors expected a quick sell-out.
On eBay the evening before the launch, pre-sales for graded Proof 70 examples quickly began to increase.
Within seconds of the launch, the US Mint website slowed down and the product was listed as “backordered.” By 12:05, the Congratulations Set was listed as “currently unavailable.”
Though no household limit was set, these sets had a product limit of 75,000 units as many had speculated, the quantity available almost-instantly vanished.
With these sets selling out in less than 2 minutes, this was the fastest online sell-out in U.S. Mint history!
Many buyers reported being able to order easily, but they had to move quickly. Some said they were unable to complete their order before the item changed status and could no longer be purchased.
An official sellout cannot be declared by the Mint until they complete the order reconciliation process to weed out cancelled orders, those with expired credit cards, etc. That process can last for a long period and we will be updating MCM readers as soon as we get word from the Mint.
But it does appear the sets are essentially gone. In some cases, as with the 2016-W gold Mercury dime, a small number of coins were made available again many months after the initial launch.
In the meantime, premiums on eBay for graded Proof 70 2017-S coins have continued to rise, essentially almost tripling in under 24 hours.
Author Name: Louis Golino
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,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. 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 and other publications. 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 has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.