By Jesse Robitaille
An extensive new collection of hockey-themed bullion coins was recently unveiled by Upper Deck, and much like their trading card counterparts, the new coins carry with them an air of mystery.
The coins – featuring 20 different professional hockey players – are packaged and distributed at random, meaning collectors won’t know what players or finishes they have until their packs are opened.
“We saw an opportunity in the industry that’s very much like what we do both on trading cards and collectibles, and we saw a parallel,” said Jason Masherah, president of Upper Deck, which unveiled its Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection at Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame on April 4.
Each coin will feature one of 20 players, both active and retired, including Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy, Connor McDavid and Alexander Ovechkin (see “Featured Players” for the full list).
These limited-edition, legal-tender bullion coins are the first collector coins to be distributed in “blind packaging,” the contents of which can only be revealed once opened.
“No one has presented anything like this for the coin business, adding a layer of anticipation that appeals to varying levels of collectors,” said Masherah, who has been president of Upper Deck since 2013.
Each of the 20 players is featured on 6,600 coins in four finishes, including 5,000 one-ounce “basic” pure silver coins; 1,000 one-ounce high-relief pure silver coins; 500 one-ounce frosted pure silver coins; and 100 quarter-ounce pure gold coins. This puts total mintages at 100,000 “basic” silver coins; 20,000 high-relief silver coins; 10,000 frosted silver coins; and 2,000 gold coins.
Each of the silver coins has a 38.1-mm diameter while each of the gold coins have a 29.1-mm diameter.
Masherah said the new coin collection is of a “quality that really hasn’t been seen before.”
“We bring licensed products to market, and the ability to bring a ‘blind package’ that allows the end consumer to have access to all those different types of coins in one product at one standard price is a very unique proposition that should do very well.”
FROM CARDS TO COINS
According to Masherah, the idea to release a coin collection was an extension of Upper Deck’s work in the trading card business.
“We thought we could elevate what we saw in the coin market to be similar to what we do in the trading card market,” he added, recalling Upper Deck’s first baseball cards, which were issued in 1989.
“We really raised the quality of trading cards at that time. We were the first ones to print on a bright white card stock, and we added an anti-counterfeit hologram on the back; very high-end, high-quality photography on the front as well as the back; and then tamper-proof foil packaging.”
One of these features – the anti-counterfeit hologram – is used as a security measure on the new coin collection.
“We carried the trademark anti-counterfeit hologram over from trading cards to coins.”
Choosing 20 stars from the roughly 600 players currently on an NHL roster isn’t an easy task; however, the first three choices came naturally.
“Obviously, you start with our spokesmen, who are Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy and Connor McDavid. They’ve been our exclusive spokesmen for a while.”
After that, it’s about ensuring the collection covers “the biggest and brightest NHL stars,” Masherah said.
“It was also real important for us to make sure that we had a star from each of the main Canadian markets as well. Then it’s just a matter of making sure we have a lot of the hockey markets covered with this first release,” he said, admitting some markets – notably the Los Angeles Kings, who won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014 – are missing from the 20-coin collection.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to update the set as we go on.”
Masherah said the company is planning to expand its Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection, and unveil similar sports-themed collections, “sometime in the near future.”
“Eventually, we’ll come up with a new design – probably a couple years down the road – and start all over again.”
The Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection has been available for purchase since April 5 on Upper Deck’s e-Pack platform as well as at CIBC in Canada. The price is set at $100 for a single coin or $500 for a collector’s box of four coins. The collector’s box also comes with a guarantee you will receive one of the high-relief silver coins, frosted silver coins or gold coins, each of which have a lower mintage.
“We partner with CIBC for distribution of the coins because they’re experts in the field. We’re really relying on their expertise to help us distribute the coins,” said Masherah. “We also allow the secondary market to take over once we sell the coins or once CIBC sells the coins.”
To purchase coins from the Grandeur Hockey Coin Collection, visit upperdeckepack.com or CIBC.com/upperdeck. For more information about the new collection, visit hockeycoins.com.