By Richard Giedroyc
Want to knock one out of the park? Try collecting the innovative cup-shaped Baseball Hall of Fame coins.
It may sound simple. There are only three coins to be obtained. But, just like the baseball game these coins honor it isn’t that simple.
The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame coins were issued in denominations of 50 cents, silver dollar, and gold $5. In addition the coins are available in either Brilliant Uncirculated or in Proof conditions. Coins that are graded by third party certification services are available with additional labels identifying them as an early release, or with facsimile or genuine signatures of baseball players who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Some of the labels appearing on the grading slip for certified coins include first strike, opening day ceremony, or the signature of Cassie McFarland, who designed the coin.
Nolan Ryan’s signature on the copper-nickel composition Uncirculated half dollar is proving to be popular. Among the silver dollars accompanied by autographs the genuine signatures are outpacing the facsimiles in popularity.
What has integrated the baseball craze into coins? Baseball has always been popular. After all, it is billed as the great American pastime. Past commemorative coins on which baseball is the subject have always sold well.
The US Mint went one step further than usual, issuing a cup-shaped coin for the first time. This, coupled with the subject matter, is creating an unexpected demand for these interesting coins.
While the cup-shaped concept is innovative for the US Mint it isn’t without a precedence. Monnaie de Paris, the French Mint, developed the idea several years ago. The French Mint, in turn, borrowed the idea from the medieval Byzantine Empire. About a thousand years ago the Byzantine Empire struck what are called scyphate coins in gold or in copper for reasons unknown. The coins stack nicely, but since the reverse of these hand-hammered coins is typically almost impossible to read the real reason they were made isn’t known.
The challenge faced by the US Mint was to have the capability of striking coins on which both sides are clearly visible, and to be able to strike multiples of them at a reasonable pace using modern coining presses.
The challenge for the third-party certification services assigning grades to these coins was to find an encapsulation or “slab” in which the coins will fit.
The challenge for collectors is to find the nicest example possible, while considering if you want the coin encapsulated or not, in a special US Mint Proof or Uncirculated set or not, and if the coin is certified, whose signature or facsimile would you prefer?
Remember the classic comment from the movie ‘A League of Their Own?’—“There’s no crying in baseball!”
Has the US Mint hit a home run with this coin? The collecting public certainly thinks so!