Mintage means more than the process of producing coins. The word “mintage” also refers to the maximum number of a specific coin that has been produced.
According to the Royal Canadian Mint, mintage can range from 10 to 65,000 and beyond. Silver American Eagles, for example, often have mintages in the tens of millions. Once a certain batch, or mintage, of coins has been sold, no more of those coins will be made. A lower mintage typically boosts the performance potential of a coin because it increases the scarcity of that coin.
“The primary influence on the [performance] or price of a coin is the supply of that particular coin in a particular grade that is available for people to buy,” says DIY website The Spruce Crafts. “The total possible supply available to the market is determined by the initial mintage of that coin.”
The website also notes that because coins often feature a date of issue, they are typically only struck during a set period of time; once the new year arrives, a particular coin can no longer be minted and must be replaced by a new coin marked with the new year.
How to Find the Mintage of a Coin
If you’re curious about whether a coin you’re interested in purchasing is a low-mintage or high-mintage coin, where do you find that information?
Each year, mints around the world release mintage numbers for their coins. You should therefore be able to locate mintage numbers on a mint’s website, according to the U.S. Coins Guide. Two mintage resources, at least for U.S. coin mintages, are the website of the U.S. Mint at www.usmint.gov and A Guide Book of United States Coins, which is published every year. Several other coin publications also put out mintage figures.
What Is Considered Low Mintage for a Coin?
There is no set number for what qualifies a coin as a low-mintage coin. Among other things, that designation depends on the type of coin and the year it was minted.
For instance, the lowest mintage for the Lincoln Cent was the 1909-S VDB coin, with just 484,000 coins produced. By contrast, the highest mintage for the same coin was 1,435,400,000 for the 1944 Lincoln Cent.
Meanwhile, the 1875 $10 Liberty Eagle Gold Coin has the lowest mintage ever recorded for a U.S. gold coin—just 100 pieces were struck.
Based on those two examples, both 484,000 and 100 could be considered low mintages.
Examples of Low-Mintage Gold Coins
Several U.S. gold coins land in the very low-mintage category. Here are five of them:
- 1921 Roman Proof Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle: Fewer than 10 of these coins are believed to exist. It’s unknown how many of them were minted.
- 1861 Liberty Head $20 Gold Double Eagle—Paquet Reverse: This scarce variety has an incredibly low mintage of just three coins, with only two thought to exist today.
- 1796 Draped Bust $2.50 Gold Quarter Eagle—No Stars: Fewer than 100 of the original mintage (of 963) are thought to exist.
- 1927-D Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle: It’s believed that only a dozen of these coins exist of the original mintage of 180,000—partly because the U.S. government ordered millions of gold coins to be melted in 1933, which included the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle.
- 1907 Proof Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Ultra High Relief Lettered Edge: Only a handful of these coins are still around; just 50 were minted.
Many low-mintage coins are certified. A certified coin undergoes a thorough evaluation by an independent coin grading service such as PCGS. Coins certified by PCGS have a unique label that lets you verify a coin’s authenticity and quality. The higher the grade, the more perfect the coin.
U.S. Money Reserve specializes in legal-tender coins that are certified museum-quality or near-perfect, many with low mintages. Call now for exclusive over-the-phone inventory and pricing.