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Melting pots beaconing
By Al Doyle

What else might get melted?

As reported in the March 10 issue of Coin World, steadily rising bullion prices have led to widespread melting of low-mintage 2007 First Spouse half-ounce gold $10 coins. 2006-W and 2007-W gold $5 commemorative coins have also been sent to the smelter just months after they were issued.

With gold at its highest all-time price in U.S. dollars and silver above $20 an ounce, the obvious question is: What other recent coins are candidates for melting?

The modern commemorative series (1982 to date) has a number of common pieces that sell for bullion-related prices. More than adequate supplies exist to meet collector demand, so anyone who bought a batch of certain dates a few months back is in a profitable position.

Extend the precious metals bull market a few months, and it could make sense to wipe the dust off a hoard of modern silver and gold coins and send them off for profitable melting. The 1982-D and 1982-S Washington half dollar could be turned into silver bars.

The 1983 and 1984 Olympic silver dollars may share the same fate. Neither is an artistic success, which only increases their chances of being melted. As for Olympic gold, the 1984 $10 and 1988 $5 coins are on the hit list.

With a mintage of 7,138,273, a few hundred thousand 1986 Statue of Liberty dollars could be melted without being missed.

Even at a somewhat lower mintage, the same can be said for the 1987 Constitution silver dollars. The gold $5 pieces from both programs (especially the Constitution) could see their populations thinned.

If the gold/silver ratio continues to narrow, combined with higher prices in the future, a pair of more recent products may end up in the melting pot.

The coins in a 1992-S Silver Proof set contain 0.71487 ounce of silver, or $14.38 worth of the metal at a spot price of $20.11. That's a little below the current retail value, but definitely subject to change in a fast-moving market.

Silver Proof State quarter sets are often broken up, as the best examples are sent to grading services, while others are sold as singles. Lower-value leftovers (not the earlier dates) could end up in a miscellaneous pot of melted coins if silver continues to rise.

While the thought of melting coins might horrify the collector, there may be a positive side to the process. If the supply of common pieces is reduced, the worth of survivors could increase, and who wouldn't want to see their holdings become more valuable?

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