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What is Limited Mintage?

Mintage refers to the total quantity of a particular coin struck. Limited mintage merely means the number of coins struck will be restricted in some way. It’s that simple.  This number is different from a coin’s population, in that the population is the number of coins of that exact variety and condition, as determined by a third-party grading service. Limited mintage is a term seen regularly when shopping with APMEX because many bullion coins enjoy limited mintage. The beloved America the Beautiful series, for example, is just one popular coin series with limited mintage.

Historically Speaking

Contemporary limited mintage coins are generally special collectible pieces, whether produced for numismatic or bullion value, and the numbers are precisely recorded. This is interesting because a caveat to the mintage number of certain historical numismatic coins is that record-keeping in the early days of the United States Mint was not an exact science. The newly started U.S. Mint recorded the number of coins turned over to the Treasury Department, not the number of coins actually produced. Another consideration is that before new dies were implemented for each new year, the previous year’s coin dies were sometimes used until they naturally wore out or broke. This occasionally resulted in coins bearing an incorrect date, for instance 1814 when in truth they were struck in 1815.

Finally, Proof coins struck especially for coin collectors were made on an as-needed basis. The U.S. Mint now carefully tracks the production of every Proof coin, but the early U.S. Mint Proof coins were neither tracked separately nor were they included in the mint’s final production numbers. Early Proofs exist in a mintage no-man’s-land.

Mintage and Value

Mintage is a prime consideration when valuing a coin, though there are other important factors that influence value. Though the accuracy of early mintage records is debatable, they are the accepted starting point for determining the relative rarity of a coin. If a particular coin is low mintage, it will generally be scarce in all grades. If a coin sports high mintage, a number of details come into play when determining its value. For example, a coin that was heavily hoarded upon its release may have a lower-than-expected value in uncirculated grades.

Survival Rate

When coins are in general circulation, they become worn and get lost. This accounts for the natural reduction of the total number of coins available for coin collectors. Additionally, there have been moments in United States history when the Treasury Department has melted down coins from storage that were never released into circulation. While the mint may have kept records of the total number of coins recycled, no records are kept of the date and mintmarks of each individual coin. Therefore, the survival rate for a given coin type, date and mintmark are pure speculation. Nowadays, a limited mintage coin will be a special acquisition for a collector or investor and their survival rate is very high.

Contemporary Limited Mintage

Many contemporary collectible coins boast limited mintages on purpose. It is a joy to own a special item that bears an aura of exclusivity. For example, the stunning America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver coin series is produced in limited numbers. The mintage of the 2012 5 oz Silver ATB Acadia National Park, ME, for instance, was held under 15,000 coins. For those who love Acadia National Park, this coin is a seldom-seen treasure so it is easy to understand how limited mintage plays into the value of a coin not only monetarily but also sentimentally.

Adding limited mintage pieces to your collection is an easy way to gain a potential edge in value over time, depending on the numbers and survival rate of the coins. Shop the many gorgeous limited mintage coins on offer at APMEX today.

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