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2018 was an exciting year for numismatists, especially for those who focus on modern coins. Mints around the world continued to expand their offerings of bullion and collector coins, which are now more diverse than at any time in history.
2018 was an exciting year for numismatists, especially for those who focus on modern coins. Mints around the world continued to expand their offerings of bullion and collector coins, which are now more diverse than at any time in history. At the same time, they continued to push the envelope of technological innovation, perfecting special minting techniques like high-relief and incuse strikes and issuing coins in unusual shapes and formats.
At the U.S. Mint, there was also a wide range of coins for the collector and for the bullion stacker with the latest issues in its many different coin programs as well as some new ones.
Sales of American Eagle coins in silver and gold remained lower than they have been in recent years and looked set in late December to be even lower than in 2017. Smart buyers took advantage of silver at $14 and gold below $1200, while that was possible at different points in the year.
In fact, in mid-September silver spot at $14 an ounce led to such strong demand for physical silver that the U.S. Mint temporarily sold out of 2018 Silver Eagles. Sales for the year are currently at about 15.6 million coins compared to a peak of 47 million in 2015.
Gold prices started off this year over $1300 and then hit a low of $1173 in August. They are now back up at about $1280 per ounce with many analysts predicting $1400 or more next year in the face of rising economic uncertainty around the world.
The big winner in precious metals this year was palladium, currently very close to gold at $1254 an ounce. This has helped support strong prices for the U.S. Mint’s most successful collector coin of the year – the 2018-W American Palladium Eagle Proof coin, which sold out in minutes at the Mint of its 15,000-mintage.
Another release from the U.S Mint that was available at a more accessible price point and which has seen its secondary market double is the 2018-S Reverse Proof Silver coin set – a first of its kind set issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of proof coin production at the San Francisco Mint.
The Mint released the latest issues in its ongoing programs like the 5-ounce silver America the Beautiful coins, the American Silver, Gold, and Platinum Eagle series, which included two silver proof issues – one from the West Point Mint, and a second from the San Francisco Mint, and helped raise funds for breast cancer research with its Breast Cancer Awareness commemoratives that include the first-ever $5 pink gold coin.
In December the Mint launched a new $1-coin program that will not be issued for circulation on American innovation and innovators that debuted with an introductory coin that celebrates the 1790 signing of the first U.S. patent by George Washington.
2018 marked the centennial of the end of World War I, the so-called “war to end all wars,” which it turned out not to be. 4 million American soldiers participated in the war, which took the lives of almost 117,000 of them and wounded another 200,000. More than 10 million died in Europe during the war and millions more later. This seminal event in world history also became a subject of numismatic interest in 2018 with a wide range of coins to mark it.
The U.S. Mint honored America’s role with the World War I Centennial silver dollar and a set of silver medals for each branch of the military, which will continue next year and beyond. The Mint also began issuing silver versions of its presidential medals.
Other countries, notably Canada and several other members of the British Commonwealth, also marked the war with a range of interesting collector coins, including the Royal Canadian Mint’s silver coin in the shape of a helmet worn by Canadian soldiers and all British Empire forces.
World mints continued their numerous ongoing bullion coin series such as Mexican Libertads, Chinese Pandas, Australian Kookaburras, and others, while adding many new ones such as the new Germania silver rounds that are very popular.
The South African Mint followed up on the 2017 premium uncirculated silver Krugerrand with the first-ever silver bullion version and released the second proof version of this popular coin. The Silver Krugerrand Series will be continued in 2019.
The popular Royal Mint Queen’s Beast series saw the release of some new beasts in different metals and sizes with the final four beasts coming in 2019 and 2020.
2019 is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Lunar calendar, which runs from February 5, 2019 through January 25, 2020, and which has been marked with a wide range of collector and bullion coins from the Perth Mint, the Chinese Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, and many others.
And fans of Marvel and other superheroes, Disney characters, Star Wars, Star Trek, and other franchises were treated to a bounty of numismatic collectibles.
Probably the two most popular issues were the restrikes of the Robbins medals made for and with an obverse designed by one of the astronauts of the Apollo 11 manned mission to the moon in 1969 and the 2019 Peace and Liberty silver and gold medals issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. The RCM medals are the precursor to a new silver bullion series the mint will launch in 2020 and feature stunning representations of peace by Susan Taylor and of liberty by John Mercanti.
As we look towards the coming numismatic year, you can count on it starting off with a major bang: the January 24 release of the most anticipated U.S. Mint collector coins in decades, the Apollo 11 50th anniversary releases that are sure to please collectors and non-collectors alike with four domed coins. Those who saw the coins at the recent first strike ceremony at the Philadelphia Mint said they look amazing.
||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.|