Ready or not, the holiday season is here. It includes Christmas, Hanukkah and Festivus, the creation of the TV show "Seinfeld." For the record, Festivus features an unadorned aluminum pole (instead of a tree) the "Airing of Grievances" and easily explained "Festivus miracles."
Those of us more inclined to celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas know part of the fun is finding that special something for someone equally special. That thrill evaporates when we discover what we had wanted to buy is sold out. Regular shoppers know how often that can happen.
That's now the case with one of the most consistently popular coins produced by the U.S. Mint — the 1/10th ounce gold American Eagle. This small coin, roughly the size of a dime, is sought after because it is a great way to affordably own just a little gold. The size makes it non-ostentatious for use in demure necklaces, bracelets or cufflinks.
Maybe it's a result of gold prices dropping — now between $1,000 and $1,100 an ounce — but the 2015 version of the coin is completely sold out at the Mint. According to Mint officials, there are no plans to produce any more 1/10th ounce gold coins this year. The larger one-half ounce and one-ounce American Eagle and Gold Buffalo coins are available but that's it. So, what's one to do?
The good news is that many coin dealers have ample supplies. Dealers are usually the primary wholesale buyers from the Mint and are the go-to source for the coins. For the 1/10-ounce golden gems, expect to pay around $125 per coin. Yes, there is a premium charged for the coins, but dealers also pay a premium when collector/investors opt to sell them. So, you win on the back end.
With precious metals prices down across the board, silver, too, is affordability gleaming at under $15 an ounce. Packaged silver U.S. Eagles are available online from the Mint at $40 for uncirculated and $49 for the proof version. If packaging isn't essential, most coin dealers carry uncirculated silver one-ounce Eagle dollar coins for just around $18 each. That's an attractive price for a traditionally popular stocking stuffer that sold for upwards of $40 each just a few years back.
Not long ago, collectors flocked to post offices to purchase the various stamps issued throughout the year to fill holes in their albums. That's no longer so easy given the plethora of stamps released annually. Combine all the commemorative and definitive stamps and it's a tad daunting.
One thing that has made that task considerably easier is the "Stamp Yearbook" printed each year. It contains most all of the stamps from the past 12 months plus much more.
The 2015 version is a 64-page hardcover stamp volume filled with colorful and historic photos relating to the stamp issues, interesting stories surrounding the topics on the stamps, stamps from 2015, plus mounts and protective sleeves. If collectors wish, they can insert the protectively mounted stamps in their own album pages or onto the spaces inside the yearbook.
Just a few of the dozens of topics featured on 2015 stamps include the soldiers who received the Medal of Honor; the U.S. Coast Guard and their 17,491 rescue missions and 3,430 lives saved in 2015; actor, philanthropist and auto racer Paul Newman (who has raised more than $430 million for charity); Elvis Presley, who sold out all of his 1,140 concerts and set the record for scoring the most Top 40 hits; as well as Emperor penguins, the War of 1812, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the Special Olympics, Maya Angelou, and dozens more.
The 2015 Stamp Yearbook sells for $64.95. For the stamps, the packet of 50 including mounts is $27.95. Or, the Yearbook and stamp packet together is $92.90. All can be ordered online at usps.com, or by calling toll-free 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724). The holiday clock is ticking.
Editor's Note: A JPEG visual of the 1/10th ounce American Eagle gold coin has been sent with this column.
To find out more about Peter Rexford visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.