By Bret Evans
In 2016, the Royal Canadian Mint offered 220 collector products, making up 284 coins, with the cost of acquiring one of every item totalling $529,162. Its the first time that number has crossed the half-a-million-dollar mark.
The number of issues is down slightly from the previous year when the RCM offered 225 products, but the actual cost is up from last year’s $339,858. One reason for the difference is the addition of an additional one gold and two silver kilogram issues, and a general increased price of the popular one and two ounce silver coins.
Collectors generally shun the low-mintage gold and silver kilogram series. The four gold and five silver kilogram coins issued in 2016 had a total cost of $329,858. In 2015, the RCM issued three gold kilogram coins and three silver kilogram issues with a total cost of $213,889.
When the kilogram issues are removed, the cost of the remaining issues of 2016 comes in at $199,304—comparable but still higher than the $125,000 tallied for the previous year.
The vast majority of the issues were silver coins in the $10 to $50 face value range. In fact 120 issues, more than half the total, fit in this popular category. In both cases the study did not include bullion issues, which are priced purely on the value of the metal and are considered investor rather than collector issues.
The total face value of all the previous year’s issues reached a staggering $32,950, although a collector could reduce that amount if they wanted to avoid duplication. For instance there are several Proof sets and Uncirculated gift sets which only contain one unique coin, and the 50-cent piece is only sold in a roll of 25 coins.
The subject of the issues, with themes such as Batman and Superman and Star Trek, appearing throughout the year, demonstrates the Mint’s marketing efforts, which appeals to collectors and potential collectors outside the traditional date set collecting of a generation ago.
While an interesting benchmark for comparison purposes, few collectors endeavour to assemble anything close to a complete collection with many focussing on specific areas of interests.
FACE VALUE PROGRAM
The past year also saw the demise of the once-popular face-value program. Started as a customer acquisition program, the number of coins and denominations in the series expanded from the original $20-for-$20 to include $25, $50, $100, and even $200 coins. Recently, the RCM announced the program, which saw lagging sales in the previous year, would be ended.
The total number of coins, and their values, would come as a shock to a collector of 30 years ago.
At that time, there were few Non-Circulating Legal Tender coins and most collecting attention was focussed on Proof, Proof-Like, and Uncirculated sets, or assembling collections of older coins by date and condition.
The first large Canadian commemorative program was the Montreal Olympic issues of the early 1970s. A second program was issued a decade later for the Calgary Olympics, but it was in the 1990s when the number of NCLT coins saw dramatic growth.
The impetus began in 1992, when the Canada 125 program generated a dozen collectible 25-cents and a commemorative loon. The number of issues continued to grow, first crossing the 200 mark in 2010 when the massive program for the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games peaked.
In recent years, the RCM has marketed its coins through monthly catalogues.
Of the 11 catalogues issued in 2016, eight had offerings of more than $10,000. The highest catalogue amount was number 11, released in November, which contained 25 issues with a total value of $101,387. The lowest was July, at $1,680.
Even more dramatic than the number and cost of issues is their popularity.
While final sales number of 2016 will not be available until that year’s annual report is released later this year, the Mint typically sells out around one third of its collector issues.
An RCM sellout means the full mintage has been struck, Canada Post and dealer allocations have been filled, and no more coins are available for sale by the Royal Canadian Mint. Dealers often continue to hold a sold out issue in inventory until their stocks are depleted.
It is not uncommon to even see sold out issues offered for sale at a small discount by postal outlets, who are unable to return unsold coins and do not have access to the numismatic market.
Full details of the 2016 coin mintages, including NCLT issues, and sales figures will be published in CCN when the RCM annual report is made public.