Perth Mint Explains “Mintages”

Around mid-month, the Perth Mint announced on their blog the upcoming offering of a 2012 Silver Proof High Relief Four Coin Set, which would contain the high relief one ounce silver proof Kangaroo, Kookaburra, Koala, and Year of the Dragon Coins with 1,000 sets available worldwide.

Each of the four coins within the new set had previously been released separately with an indicated mintage of 20,000 for the Kangaroo, 10,000 for the Koala, 10,000 for the Kookaburra, and 7,500 for the Year of the Dragon. The Koala and Kookaburra were both under exclusive distribution within the USA. The Year of the Dragon coin had already sold out of the indicated 7,500 mintage.

The Perth Mint’s blog post immediately drew criticism within the comments since it would effectively raise the total mintage for each of the coins.

The Perth Mint provided this response:

The Mint is passionate about the interests of its collectors. Without collectors there would be no numismatic program!

But we are also a commercial operation, created by an Act of Parliament to return a profit to the State of Western Australia by adding value to Australian precious metals for export.

Our job is to balance profitable business opportunities with the interests of collectors worldwide in the best way we can.

Sometimes this involves re-packaging a coin to create an altogether new product with an exclusive mintage. We’ve done this over many years, so there’s nothing new here.

It is not our intention to gouge loyal collectors. Such offerings are generally created for overseas coin distributors who initiate the project and formally commit to the vast majority of the mintage.

That’s a valid business opportunity for the Mint.

Collectors have little to fear from it. We believe the packaging and format variations we insist on make them separate, unique products.

Even if you don’t accept that, an increase of 1,000 from such a low mintage base does not alter the fact that they remain extremely rare.

In both examples discussed in this thread, we’re reasonably confident of achieving sell out – meaning secondary market prices won’t be unduly affected either.

Hopefully this provides a better understanding of our decisions. Many thanks to all those who have contributed to this post and please rest assured your interests will always be vital to us.

More recently, the Perth Mint devoted an entire post to explaining what they mean by “mintages.” You can read the full post here.

The key point of the post was the difference between “total vs. certificate mintages.” The Australian Treasury grants a certain maximum mintage level. The Perth Mint decides how many coins to release within a particular packaging option. Therefore, what the Perth Mint has typically referred to as the “limited mintage” for an offering, would more accurately be referred to as the “product packaging limit.”

They provide the specific example of the 2012 High Relief Year of the Dragon coins, for which Treasury granted approval to strike up to 30,000 coins. The Perth Mint decided to release 7,500 coins in the individual packaging option released earlier this year. They will release another 1,000 coins within the soon to be released Four Coin Set.

The Perth Mint has indicated that they will change the wording of the mintage limit on future certificates to include the words “in this packaging.”

I asked the following questions in the comments section:

Is the maximum number of collectable coins the Perth Mint is permitted to strike for a given coin publicly available information? If so, where can it be found? The only information that I ever see is apparently the maximum for the given packaging option.

Does the authorization for a maximum mintage ever expire? For example, in 2021 could the Perth Mint legally strike the remaining 21,500 of the 2012 High Relief Dragons that were authorized?

The Perth Mint provided the following responses:

No, the maximum number of collectable coins we are approved to make by the Australian Treasury in Canberra is not made public.

Authorization for a maximum mintage does not expire. The passing of time does not affect the original Australian Treasury decision.

Yes, in 2021 we could legally strike the remaining number of HR Dragon coins within the approved mintage. Would we do it? No, we manage availability of the coins responsibly with collector interests in mind.

Some thoughts:

I have previously discussed the Perth Mint’s open-ended ability to continue to produce coins that have not met their maximum mintage. The fact that there is an unknown Treasury granted maximum mintage that might be even higher certainly adds another aspect to the situation.

The Perth Mint does seem to be cognizant of collector impressions and the market values for their more popular coins. Based on their responses, they seem to be trying to manage their somewhat broad authority in such a way as to balance pursuing profitable opportunities and serving collectors. Nonetheless, it is disheartening that whenever there is a popular product that sells out quickly, there is the looming possibility that it may be re-issued in another packaging option.

From the perspective of US-based collectors, we expect that the maximum mintage refers to the total number of coins that may be minted and issued across all packaging options. Collectors from other parts of the world may have less strict expectations. The Perth Mint pointed out that they have done multiple packaging options for other coins many times in the past. It also seems that some world mint products derive their premiums based solely on the packaging- an example would be some of the Libertad products as well as some Perth Mint products.

The Perth Mint mentioned their pursuit of profitable business opportunities. I would mention that some opportunities can provide a short term benefit, but long term detriment. While they may attain an extra 1,000 units of sales from the upcoming Four Coin Sets, their future high relief silver proof coins may generate less enthusiasm and experience slower sales if collectors start to become disenchanted by the prospect of “re-packaging.”

The fact that Perth Mint collector coins can legally be minted forever (as long as the Treasury granted maximum mintage is not met) also serves as a long term detriment. For bullion coins with unlimited mintages, the Perth Mint has generally indicated a date at which production will be closed, leading to a definitive final mintage. Some similar concept should be applied to collector coins as well.

Lastly, I started purchasing coins for my collection from the Perth Mint because I found artistry and innovation that went above and beyond what other mints were offering. Unlike some of my US Mint purchases, I did not spend a lot of time analyzing secondary market prospects and mintages, but simply wanted to add beautiful coins to my collection. Of course secondary market prices have their importance and I would rather see them go up than down, but some coins would still be my favorites regardless.

Readers can provide their own thoughts in the comments.

Upcoming Releases

The Perth Mint is scheduled to release a large number of new product releases on October 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM ET (time for collectors in the United States). These products include colored editions of the Year of the Snake Gold and Silver Coins, a 2 oz. silver proof collection for the Australian Lunar Series II, the 2012 Silver Proof High Relief Four Coin Set, and new releases for the Dragons of Legend series, Birds of Australia series, and Four Seasons series.

Once available, find these products in the new releases section. I will have a full post with more details after the official release time.

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Comments

  1. Louis says

    Excellent post. I appreciate Perth taking the concerns of its customers seriously and think some other mints could learn from that example. And I agree that the joy of looking at the coins should be the main point of collecting, as I have said before esp. regarding Perth coins. But doubling the mintage of the 2 oz silver proof coins will surely have a negative impact on the values of those coins, as well as long-term effects on customer loyalty and buying patterns. These moves, as you suggest, may end up strengthening the value of the bullion coins, esp. series I Lunar, which Perth has stated will not be re-minted. That sets looks great in the special wood boxes designed for them.

  2. Mercury says

    What’s the point of even listing a mintage limit, if your intentions are that at some future date you simply plan to mint more? As I see it, you might want to clue in your Parliament and let them know that if collectors stop buying their coins, how do they expect to make a profit? The way I see it… we are the hand feeding you, you need us, and not the other way around. Collectors can drop Perth Mint like a heart attack. Let’s get our priorities straight here, Perth Mint is not the only horse and pony show in town. You make it seem like we should be apologizing to you for daring to interfere with your profit margin. Fortunately for me, the one thing The Perth Mint doesn’t have control of, is whom I choose to purchase my coins from.

  3. Jeremy says

    In light of this article I’m not sure why anyone would continue to purchase coins from the Perth Mint. Regardless, I know some people will not allow themselves to see ANY fault in the Perth Mint’s practices, especially if they write articles regarding the institution and its operations.

  4. Broooster says

    Well guys, to me it’s not going to really matter. I just collect what I like. Low mintage coins are cool and all, but really, if I am not attracted to the coin, a mintage of 50 really does not matter to me. But then again, I am not a flipper. Hopefully I never have to sell my collection, and I get to pass them on to the kids and grandkids, but who knows, time will tell.
    Remember guys and gals, it’s suppost to be fun.

  5. says

    Has Perth ever released more coins down the road for series like the “Deadly and Dangerous”? I’d love to pick up a Red Back Spider for $110…lol. Really though, I think their are several “series” of coins, including the Dragons of Legend, that I’d be surprised id they re-issued more coins…of course, they could issue a complete 5 coin set at some point…but is this something they have been doing with previous series?

    I’m not trying to defend Perth for the coins they have/or will re-issue (I was really disappointed with the news of the Twelve coin 2 oz set), I’m just asking about whether or not they have re-issued coins from previous “series” as I really haven’t followed most of them well enough to know.

  6. T1 browserman says

    As an aside RAM has introduced their new e-shop website. Both AU mints are overpriced but do create beautiful offerings.

    No wonder the ASE is always in demand. May be the same old design except the date but who else can beat its cost over spot with same PM content?

    I purchased one legal tender silver Perth offering (Diamond Jubilee) and may purchase the sold out RAM’s curved Southern Crux from e-bay. That’s about it from Australia…. for me…..for now.

    By the way, at least Perth posts its wholesalers and retailers across the globe on its website but as I stated in a previous post, to buy bullion NOT numismatics you still need to send in a copy of both your driver’s license & passport as well as a notarized proof of identity. Next time your visit tap the BULLION tab on top left.

  7. M says

    As long as Perth continues to produce quality I am happy. I also like how they offer exclusive sizes and styles to New York Mint and Paradise Mint, etc.

  8. Louis says

    Bullion Baron,
    I am curious about your comment. My understanding of the info. released by Perth is that it only applies to numismatic releases. As far as the bullion series, I know series one is safe, but the same applies to series two coins that are sold out of max mintage like the snakes just did, right?

    My own view is that it is a mistake to look at these coins as an investment apart from perhaps getting the new bullion coins when they come out for a little over spot. For everything else, if you enjoy the series, there is no reason I can see for not continuing to buy one to keep your collection updated. But those who buy multiples to sell probably want to reconsider their plans.

  9. Shutter says

    I think it’s troubling that Perth Mint believes that it can mint coins up to the maximum authorized forever. To Bullion Baron, I understand not wanting to bother with Series 2 coins, but is there anything that prevents them from going back and minting additional Series 1 coins now, or in 2021, or in 2201?

    It would be nice if Perth Mint was a bit more transparent and revealed what the maximum authorized mintages were.

  10. Louis says

    Shutter,
    Not long ago they said they would not mint any more series 1 coins, though given recent developments, that may not be iron clad. Also, remember that as they have said, just because they can re-mint more does not necc. mean they will do that. It would not be in their interest to do it all the time. And if their sales numbers drop from this, that will surely result in a reassessment.

  11. Shutter says

    Not long ago they said they would not mint any more series 1 coins

    Yes, I heard that. However, I think Michael used 2021 in his question to them because by then Series 2 would be over and, presumably, Series 3 would begin. In their answer above they also said that they would not do that, but they could do it legally. I don’t see how that would be different for Series 1.

    Also, the above discussion refers specifically to Australian coins. What are the rules regarding Tuvalu coins they mint? I am assuming that those aren’t governed by Australian Treasury.

  12. saucexx says

    Thanks for the post Michael

    Louis,

    I don’t believe bullion coins are immune from this either. Bullion Baron himself has posted about Perth reminting 1992 Koalas.

    http://www.bullionbaron.com/2012/04/perth-mint-reminting-early-1992.html

    Nothing I’ve seen states that bullion is necessarily immune from this. Perth has maximum mintages that only they apparently know, regardless of what they have posted on their site. If someone has a link that says different please post.

    From my perspective a coin that loses its value over time is not worth collecting. I have limited funds and plenty of options including other mints and classic coins. It would be bad enough if my investment was only limited to coins purchased directly from Perth. But I’ve also purchased product at higher prices on the secondary market than Perth’s already high premiums. This now seems like a major mistake. Perth might as well be the Franklin Mint at this point.

    Perth is taking advantage of its customer base for short term gain and I have no interest in contributing to it. They should have a responsibility to look out for the customers who are contributing to all of their new income, including protecting the investments we’ve made in their products. Because otherwise there’s no point in buying this stuff much over melt.

  13. G says

    I have to say this is such a disappointing development. Think of the outrage over the 75th S.F. Eagle set having the one coin included in the Coin and Currency set- now, imagine if they minted 2011 ASE sets this year? I have to say, this really impacts my desire to purchase Perth coins. For such a large premium over spot, the only justification is the low mintages. Without those?

  14. Louis says

    I have contacted Perth for some additional clarification and I will report on this in CoinWeek if I receive a response.

    For those who have not decided to give up on Perth altogether, free shipping will be in effect for orders over $100 from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30.

    As for Tuvalu, I am not certain, but since that is a separate govt’., I would think they can not remint those. Many of the Tuvalu coins are really nice to look at it, and so far they have held their value quite nicely.

  15. says

    @Louis, to clarify I meant I won’t be buying another Series 2 modern numismatic release. I will continue buying the bullion series coins where they can be picked up for the usual direct from mint premium or less.

    This move throws into question the entire numismatic coin mintage sheets. And even for the bullion coins… we know they mint 300k 1oz coins, they also mint additional 1oz bullion coins for sets like the 4 coin typeset, etc. Do we need to be wary of the secret treasury limits on the bullion coins as well?

    I would suspect that even if Perth Mint has say an upper limit from treasury on bullion coins of 400k, they wouldn’t release them for bullion prices (e.g. they may include more in additional numismatic sets), but who knows?

    Perth Mint has proved time and time again that they are motivated by profit and show little interest in protecting the collector.

  16. saucexx says

    A couple things:

    Perth is marketing these coins as low mintage with specific statements to that effect. The high relief Dragon specifically states: “Extremely Limited Mintage, No more than 7,500 of these coins will be released”. The high relief Koala: “Limited Mintage, No more than 10,000 of these coins will be issued worldwide”. The high relief Kangaroo: “Limited Mintage, No more than 20,000 of these coins will be issued worldwide”. And the high relief Kookaburra: “Limited Mintage, No more than 10,000 of these coins will be issued worldwide”. This is all clearly false and they are now coming up with some ridiculous story to justify it. Anybody want to comment on the legal side of this?

    Two, as a novelty item maybe the cost would not matter as much. I’ve purchased Dragon products because my daughter was born as that sign and I’ll probably keep them for that reason. But as collectible numismatic coins I can not justify buying their products if they’re going to continue to operate they way they are.

  17. Samuel says

    Frankie, i remember u said u bought some of those $65 dragon ms70. do they have white spots? 80% of mine have white spots or stains.

  18. Frankie says

    No, I didn’t buy any as I don’t have the money right now. You can always return for an exchange. I’m fairly sure APMEX offer that.

  19. CW says

    No one I know collects packaging. In fact I throw almost all the OGP out (gasp). Perth is missing the point. It is the number of coins issued, not how they are issued.

  20. Louis says

    APMEX is excellent about returns. You can get your money back no problem if you return within the specified time frame.

  21. Mercury says

    For those of us, who make the claim that we are purchasing coins to leave for our grandkids, then I’m with saucexx’ comment, in which he states that from his perspective, “a coin that loses its value over time is not worth collecting.” Especially so, if the next generation of coin collectors who receive our coins as an inheritance, cannot financially benefited from them because their value has been intentionally undermined. Sure, I like other collectors, collect coin because of their appeal, but on the other hand it would be selfish of me on my part to take the money that I could be leaving for the grandkids future and piss it away on coins that in the future will be of little value. Yes, I too feel it would be a major mistake for those who collect coins, to totally disregard the effect over saturation would have on the value of their collection now, as well as the investment our grandkid will receive in return. So yes, I do feel that the entities that mint and sell collector coins should have the responsibility to maintain a business that is committed to the interest of its purchasers short term and long term goals; which would include protecting the investments we’ve made in their products. My feelings are that if a collector is collecting responsibly, then their purchases should also take into account the financial needs of the family. So too, a Mint, whether The U.S. or The Perth Mint should conduct itself in a responsible manner toward it’s “family” by contributing to the various interest of it’s customers’ wants and needs (as well as) looking out for it’s customer’ financial investments.

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