The 2007 First Spouse 24K Gold Coin Program (Companion to the Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program)

Some new detail is now available on the US Mint website about the companion program to the new Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program launching in 2007.

In case you missed it, I’ve written a couple of posts about the program, and they have both been fairly popular over time:

Some interesting detail about the program:

The United States is honoring our Nation’s First Spouses by issuing one-half ounce $10 gold coins featuring their images, in the order that they served as first spouse, beginning in 2007 with Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, (Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty) and Dolley Madison. The obverse of these coins will feature portraits of the Nation’s First Spouses, their names, the dates and order of their term as first spouse, as well as the year of minting or issuance, “In God We Trust” and “Liberty.” The United States Mint will mint and issue First Spouse Gold Coins on the same schedule as the Presidential $1 Coins issued honoring the Presidents. Each coin will have a unique reverse design featuring an image emblematic of that spouse’s life and work, as well as “The United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “$10,” “1/2 oz.” and “.9999 Fine Gold.”

When a President served without a First Spouse, such as Thomas Jefferson, a gold coin will be issued bearing an obverse image emblematic of Liberty as depicted on a circulating coin of that era, and bearing a reverse image emblematic of themes of that President.

The United States Mint will also produce and make available to the public bronze medal duplicates of the First Spouse Gold Coins.

A few key points stand out to me here, as a collector:

  1. These coins will be expensive. These look like they will be the second series of coins in US history to be a full 24K gold (99.99% pure). The first, of course, was the new 2006 American Buffalo, and at one ounce the proof version of this coin sold for $800. Given that the price of gold is not likely to decrease much in the near term, it’s likely that each of these coins will retail at between $400-$500 in proof form, making this a $2,000-a-year habit for the collector. Compare this to the US State Quarter program, where a 90% silver version of each year’s coins would only cost you $20-$40, depending on whether you bought the quarters alone, or the full year silver proof set.
  2. No detail on bundled sets, yet. It stands to reason that the US Mint will produce some form of collectible proof set of the matching gold coin and presidential dollar… but what form will be the favorite? Would you rather have a single set of all the coins for the year? Or each President, paired with their first spouse? Does it really make sense to have a manganese-brass coin for the President, and 24K solid gold for the first spouse? I’m a little afraid the US Mint is going to be over-eager here, and produce too many versions of these coins to be anything but frustrating to collectors.
  3. Trivial Pursuit, First Spouse Edition. Martha Washington, most people know. There will definitely be some fun in identifying which Presidents actually served without spouses, or which Presidents served with two. (You can find the answers to these questions already in the US Mint schedule, available on their site.) I will admit, when I think of Dolley Madison, I think of baked goods, not gold coin #4. Is anyone, beyond speculators, really going to jump at purchasing these coins?

As a collector, I guess this comes down to one question: will there be enough demand for these coins to generate a good long term return. Unlike the dollars, these will not be in general circulation. Will they be treated like bullion coins (fantastic long term returns to collectors) or like special-edition commeratives, which tend not to appreciate over time?

When I first heard about the program, I thought that it was too expensive, but there might be real long term demand for “popular” spouses – Martha Washington, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacquiline Kennedy… Now, I’m not so sure.

Recently, I’ve been shocked by the sky-rocketing price for the new, uncirculated silver eagle from the US Mint. As a new issue in 2006, this was not a proof coin, just a new, uncirculated silver eagle in a nice case for $17 from the US Mint. The price on eBay is now over $50, largely because it turns out that this was the only way to get the “W” mint-mark coin, and relatively few people acquired it. Right now, this version is worth almost double what the much prettier, proof-version of the silver eagle is worth.

Will the pattern be the same for these coins? Will Dolley Madison end up selling poorly in 2007, resulting in a sky-rocketing price in 2015 when everyone realizes they need Dolly Madison to complete the set? Will anyone be trying to complete this set, at an aggregate cost of over $16,000 at today’s prices?

If you are a coin collector out there, I’d love to hear from you.

Update (6/19/2007): I’ve just posted a new article on the launch of the coins, today, at the US Mint website. $429.95 for the proof coin, $410.95 for the uncirculated coin. Shipping will start on July 4th. Total mintage: 40,000 coin limit per first spouse, regardless of type of coin.

Update (6/21/2007):  The first spouse coins sold out in approximately 2 hours!  Unbelievable.  Check out this post for more information, and a link to current prices on eBay.

6 thoughts on “The 2007 First Spouse 24K Gold Coin Program (Companion to the Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program)

  1. Adam, concerning the 1/2 ounce spouse coins in 9999 gold. As you know the key to collecting these coins will be the number minted. I have looked everywhere I can to try and learn the answer to that question and cannot find it anywhere. That leads me to believe there might be the possibility that a Presidential 1 ounce 9999 gold coin with the same number of coins minted would be the shot heard round the world. As a collector that would be the only plausable way to release these coins. Surely the mint would not release a set, President & spouse coin set, one in a non value metallic metal and the other in 9999 gold. This would requore about $6,000 a year at current gold prices. Would like your comments. Do you know how many of the 9999 spouse coins are scheduled for release?

  2. Hi Allen,

    I’m afraid the only details I’ve been able to find about the program are from the US Mint, and from the legislation itself that approved the program.

    There are a few good questions still worth answering:
    1) Will they only mint these First Spouse coins in Proof form, or will there be an uncirculated version as well? Last year, the new uncirculated silver, gold & platinum eagles were worth more than the proof due to shockingly low mintage.

    2) Will there be a precious metal version of the presidential dollars? Right now, the answer looks like no, if for no other reason than the fact that the current 2005 legislation does not authorize one, and I believe Congress would have to approve that kind of program.

    3) Will anyone really try to collect this set? At the price of gold, this will be a very expensive set to collect to fruition at current gold prices, north of $20,000 for sure. That may mean low mintage, but low mintage does not always equal value. There has to be demand for the coins.

    The big question I have now is whether or not people will treat the First Spouse coins as a series of coins, or as a series of commemoratives. As you may know, very few commemorative gold/silver coins ever accumulate value. They just don’t see to draw long term demand. Coin series do draw demand eventually.

    The other question is, how to best collect the First Spouse coin – individual proof, or in sets with the paired presidential dollar?

    I have seen no mintage limits specified for the First Spouse coins. I bet you they will mint as many as they can, in the short time they are in production. They set a mintage limit on the proof gold buffalo, but it was so high (300,000), it was effectively limitless.

    Thanks for posting.
    Adam

  3. I don’t know much more about first ladies than you do, but I find it odd that you keep picking Dolley Madison as your prototype unpopular coin. Of the first ladies through 1900, isn’t she the most famous? She had that episode of saving stuff from the white house when it burned in the war of 1812…

    Certainly among the coins for first ladies up to 1900, Dolley Madison is the only one I personally might want to own. Then again, I live less than two miles from Dolley Madison Boulevard.

    In any case, note the spelling. Dolley is the lady. Dolly is the bakery. I hadn’t realized there was a difference until I noticed you have spelled it both ways here.

  4. Thank you for catching that spelling error. Until now, I actually thought Dolley Madison was famous because of the bakery… 🙂

    I was just discussing again today with my wife whether or not it is going to be worth it to collect this series. I guess I’ll find out soon enough when Martha Washington kicks it off soon.

    – Adam

  5. Pingback: Psychohistory Coming Soon: The Presidential $1 Dollar Coin Program «

  6. Any updates on the presidential coins and the First Spouse coins? I have started collecting the silver proof sets and the covers. How are the First Spouse coins “stacking” up?
    Thanks.

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