First Spouse Coins

The rarest first spouse coin -- so far

Julia Tyler first spouse coin2011 Julia Tyler first spouse coin reverse
So far, the 2009 Julia Tyler takes the crown for the rarest first spouse coin. In uncirculated, only 2861 coins were minted. This places a limit of 2861 on the total number of complete first spouse coin sets that can ever be completed -- a number which may diminsh with future issues. This is a far cry from the original plan of minting 20,000 of each. On the proof side, the 2009 Margaret Taylor is the rarest with a mintage of 4787.

2011 update

Will Eliza Johnson revive interest in first spouse coins? Not likely

2011 Eliza Johnson first spouse coin 2011 Eliza Johnson first spouse coin reverse Who was Eliza Johnson? Only the most scholarly of american historians know the answer. She was the wife of Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached. As an obscure historical figure, she will probably not generate the enthusiasm needed to rejuvanate the series. At an issue price of $916 for the uncirculated version, the number of collectors of the series may contnue to decline. However, this also increases the chances that some of these later first spouse coins will become rare.

First spouse coins becoming scarcer -- but no one wants them

The 2009 mintages for first spouse gold coins will make them among the rarest of US commemoratives. As of today (updated Nov 13, 2009), only 2,993 uncirculated and 5,081 proof Anna Harrison gold coins have been minted and sold. At prices of over $700 per coin, collecting the first spouse series has become too expensive. The first spouses in the 2009 series are much more obscure historically than the first year's. Interest, it seems, has waned.

John Tyler married twice -- adding to the expense for collectors.

After his first spouse died, John Tyler remarried. Thus there were two first spouses while Tyler was in the White House: Letitia Tyler and Julia Tyler. As a result, there are five first spouse designs for 2009 rather than four for 2008 and 2007. Combined with the surge in the price of gold, the total cost of collecting the 2009's is now double what it cost to collect the 2007 First Spouse coins.

Will there be some rare first spouse coins?

update (July 2, 2009) To review this series, the mint started by making 40,000 Marthas followed by 40,000 Abbies. For the latest first spouse coins, the mintages are closer to 6,000. More coins are being struck in proof than uncirculated. Recent uncirculated mintages are hovering around a mere 2,000. The reason for the drop in mintages is the drop in demand. The first spouses of the first few presidents were well known in American history. Other first spouses are unknown. Also, the price of gold bullion climbed after the series was introduced. Few collectors can now afford to purchase all of them. The bottom line is that some of the first spouse coins are likely to be rare. The mint only keeps the coins for sale for one year. Aftter that, they are gone. If interest picks up, these rare coins could become valuable. And so, Anna Harrison could be much more valuable than Martha Washington or Abigail Adams.

The spouseless first spouse coins: Van Buren's Liberty and Andrew Jackson's Liberty Gold Coins

Perhaps the most interesting pieces in the first spouse gold coin series will be the coins for those president's who did not have spouses. The most recent are Martin Van buren and Andrew Jackson. Of course, this is old hat, but last year, we had Thomas Jefferson. For the presidents that did not have spouses, the coins will depict a personification of liberty as depicted on an acutal US coin minted during the years of the presidency. This collection will make an intersting collectible subset of the first spouse series.

The Louisa Adams First Spouse Gold Coin

Meanwhile, the regular first spouse series continued with Louisa Adams. Due to the anticipation of heavy demand, the mint originally placed an order limit of one per household. This limit was then changed to ten per household. Now households may order as many as they like. What does this tell us? It tells us that the first spouse coins may be losing their luster. There are two reasons for this. First, the rising costs of gold bullion prompted the mint to continue to raise their prices. Proof first spouse coins are now $579. Uncirculated first spouse coins are $566. These prices are out of the range of most collectors, especially with so many coins in this collection. Another reason may be the first spouses themselves. Any fifth grader who has had a history course will be well versed in the accomplishments of Marth Washington or Abigail Adams. But what about Louisa Adams? The problem is, after the first year,few people will have heard of the first spouses. Thus it appears that interest in this series may be waning.

Collector's hit with price increase for First Spouse Coins

Collectors were hit with a big price increase when trying to purchase the Dolley Madison First Spouse Coins. The proof Dolley Madison coins went on sale for $529.95,while the uncirculated Dolley madion coins went on sale for $509.95. This represents approximately a 25% increase in price from the first three coins in the series. The reason for the increase is the increase in the cost of gold bullion.

First Spouse Coins

Images from the US mint.

This year will mark the beginning of two new series of coins. Over a billion presidential dollars will be minted this year depicting the first four presidents of the United States. These are designed as circulating coins. Of course, Americans haven't been interested in circulating dollar coins for the last two centuries, so I'm not sure why they will start now. For each presidential coins made, there will be a "First Spouse" ten dollar gold coin. Originally, they were to be called the "First Lady" coins. The mint quickly changed the name to "First Spouse" coins after polls showed Hillary Clinton with a chance to win the democratic nomination for president.

Investment potential for first spouse coins

Originally, the mint offered a "subscription" program, where people could subscribe to the 20007 series of 4 coins. In the first three days, the mint received thousands of orders. They responded by cancelling the subscription program in order to ensure a distribution that was "more fair." Now individual coins can be ordered starting at noon on the official release dates. The mint is limiting orders to 5 coins per type per adress.

My view of this is that the mint feels demand will be heavy. If the series catches on, it is likely that the first year's coins will be relatively scarce and in highest demand. Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison are well-known figures in American history. When the Abigail Fillmore coin is released, it is not clear if the demand will be as intense.

Proof vs. uncirculated First Spouse Coins

For the first year, the mintage of each coin is limited to 40,000, which is the total of uncirculated and proof coins. For the first three coins in the series,the mint produed equal numbers of proof and uncirculated coins. This fact, however, was not announced prior to the sale. The Dolley Madison coins are explicitly limited to 20,000 proof coins and 20,000 uncirculated coins.

Martha Washington First Spouse Coin

         The Martha Washington coin will be released simulatanously with the Abigail Adams Coin on June 19, 2007.  The reverse of the Martha Washington coins shows Martha sewing a button onto George's military uniform.

During the Revolutionary War, Martha Washington organized sick wards and persuaded the society ladies of Morristown to roll bandages from their fine napkins and tablecloths, as well as to repair uniforms and knit shirts for the poorly equipped Continental soldiers.

Abigail Adams First Spouse Coin

Abigail Adams was first lady from 1797 to 1801. The coin will be released on June 19,2007 (along with the Martha Washington coin). The reverse of the coins shows Abigail Adams writing a letter. She is best known for writing to her husband insisting that he "remember the ladies" when creating the framework for the new government.

The Jefferson Liberty coin

        When Thomas Jefferson was president (1801 to 1809), there was no first lady. Jefferson's wife, Martha, died in 1782. The coin has a depiction of liberty from a half cent that circulated at the time of Jefferson. The coin was supposed to be released August 16, 2007.

Dolley Madison First Spouse Coin


         Dolley Madison was First Lady from 1809 to 1817, although she also served as a White House Hostess for events under Thomas Jefferson. George Washington makes an appearance on the reverse of the coin. In 1814, Dolley Madison saved the painting (a portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart) and the Cabinet papers (which she clasps in her hand). The coin is expected to be released November 15, 2007.

This is Dolley Madison's second appearance on a coin. She appeared on a commemorative dollar in 1999.