Beginner’s Corner: Exploring Mintage

When you're looking at coins to buy and you begin reading the specifications, you'll see something called a "mintage" followed by a number. Do you know what a mintage number refers to and what it might mean for your collection?

When you’re looking at coins to buy and you begin reading the specifications, you’ll see something called a “mintage” followed by a number. Do you know what a mintage number refers to and what it might mean for your collection?

The definition “mintage” refers to how many of a given coin will be struck by the Mint. The issuing Mint usually declares the mintage in most cases. While some coins have unlimited mintages, meaning that the Mint could strike more at any time, others can have declared mintages that cap how many of a particular coin will ever be issued.

It should also be noted that mintage refers to the total amount of coins that were ever struck. The number of coins in the original mintage that still survives today may be significantly smaller than the original mintage. Early United States gold coins are a great example of this phenomenon. While substantial amounts of early U.S gold dollars were originally minted, the amount that still exists today is unknown, both due to the wear of time and the practice of melting down gold coins during times of economic crisis.

Mintage can be an influencer on the value or price of a coin, but it is far from the only determining factor. It’s certainly more exciting, at least from a personal perspective, if you own one out of a total mintage of 100 coins, versus 1 out of 1,000,000 coins, but maybe that’s just me!

Sometimes Mints refer to a “Product Limit” instead of, or in conjunction, with a product mintage. In response to the numismatic publication, Coin World, U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White stated that, “Mintage represents the number of coins that were produced. Product Limit is the number of units produced for an individual product or SKU.” This definition indicates that a mintage may be larger than a product limit depending upon the various ways a Mint may release a coin. For example, if a coin is offered individually but is also included in a special set or bulk packs, those respective numbers will be included in the total mintage, but each offering will have a different product limit.

In November of 2020, the United States Mint released the first Gold American Eagle to bear a V75 privy mark. Boasting a symbolic mintage of JUST 1,945 coins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of allied involvement in World War II, this release is currently the lowest American Gold Eagle to-date! This low mintage issue sold out within minutes of its release on November 5th.

The bullion American Silver Eagle series is an excellent example of how vastly mintages can vary from year to year. The below chart depicts several years of issues, including the two lowest bullion issues to date. Recently, in 2020, the United States Mint authorized a limited run of Brilliant Uncirculated American Silver Eagles that were struck at the Philadelphia branch of the Mint to help offset both delays due to Covid-19 and high customer demand. This limited run of 240,000 bullion Silver Eagles in 2020 is currently the second lowest bullion Silver Eagle mintage to date, falling just below the 79,500 coins that were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 2015.

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