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My Thoughts on Non-Circulated Legal Tender Coins

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Regardless of the forum-be it on a third party grading service, chat room, a conversation in a coin show, or a simple tweet-it always ends the same. Half are for NCTL and the other half will insist it's just a medal or bullion coin. And that's okay with me, but first let's explore what these coins are.

NCLT is a numismatic term that stands for Non-Circulated Legal Tender. This is a broad definition considering the coins are not intended for circulation or commerce. Most are produced in silver, gold, and other precious metals, with the introduction of cupronickel , titanium sterling silver, etc. They are usually proof, frosted, reverse proof, and/or colorized. We know with certainty that these coins will not enter circulation as the value of the metal content is greater than the small denomination. Thus, they are intended solely for the collector and investor.

We could spend hours defining legal tender, but that will only digress from our basic premise - the arguments concerning NCLT.

Most counter arguments will note these products are from small, relatively unknown, or remote countries, which have in the past included the island of Nuie , British Virgin Islands, Republic of Congo, Isle of Mann, Fiji, Gibraltar, Sierra Leone,and the list goes on. Working with private mints the governments authorize certain NCLT coins commemorating events that lack any historical significance to their country. Further, these are modern coins, uncirculated, and are not considered numismatic with no value beyond the amount of precious metal content. In short, they consider these as simply bullion coins or medals.

Okay! These points have a certain amount of validity, yet most, if not all, of the mints in the world, whether private or governmental issue non-circulated legal tender coins. Case in point: yesterday the US Mint released the 2021 Peace Dollar commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Morgan Silver Dollars and Peace Dollars. They are uncirculated coins intended for collectors and investors. In fact, it has been reported on the American Numismatic Association blog, addressing this same issue, that NCLT are a billion dollar industry.

Is there a place for NCLT within the numismatic world?

In my humble opinion, it is a mistake to assess these commemorative issues as unworthy as collectible coins. Private mints have offered artistic designs, quality, authenticity , and unique products of all shapes and sizes. In many instances, privately owned mints have led the pathway to innovation. Pobjoy Mint, located in the UK, is the oldest privately owned mint in the world. Under their leadership they developed the technology for producing colorized titanium coins. Using an excerpt from their website, "In 1978, we developed the world's first satisfactory man-made precious metal, called Virenium, which has been successfully used in high denomination coinage since then." Their contributions to circulated and uncirculated coins is beyond reproach.

Are NCLT just bullion coins?

My answer is NO! A precious metal bullion coin is offered in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition with the weight and type of precious metal usually appearing on the obverse of the coin. Its value is determined by the spot price of the precious metal plus a premium charge. In contrast, the 2020 BVI 2 troy ounce .999 FineSilver Proof Ultra High Relief "The Mayflower" commemorative piedfort coin is not a bullion coin, but a unique, high quality collectible item.

Explore the world of NCLT coins and the many possibilities available to enhance and diversify your collection. We welcome any and all comments.

Sarah A. Giavroutas - Editor in Chief and major contributor to this blog

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