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What Does First Day of Issue Mean?


Question: What Does First Day of Issue Mean?

First Day of Issue is a PCGS grading service designation that is extremely misleading (if not downright fraudulent). The average collector might assume that a coin in a PCGS holder that says "First Day of Issue" was issued on the first day the coins were available, but this is not the case.


According to the PCGS submission guidelines for the First Day of Issue designation, a circulating commemorative coin (such as a Presidential Dollar) can be submitted at any time in the future, even decades from now, as long as it is in a Mint-sealed bank box with a date of issue on, or prior to the official release date for the coin type. Meeting this requirement, the coins in that sealed box can get the PCGS First Day of Issue designation on the holder.

The problem with this requirement is that virtually all circulating commemorative coins are packaged in bank boxes with dates on, or prior to, the official release date! After all, long before the coins can be issued to the public, they must be struck, counted, wrapped, boxed, shipped to the Federal Reserve, and then distributed to the banks. Since all of these events must occur before the coin's release date, virtually all coins with short release periods (which includes all circulating commemoratives) are in boxes with dates on, or prior to, release!

This is one of those "DUH" things that are clearly abusive and misleading, especially when there is no deadline for submission. After all, why should PCGS bulk submitters have to risk tying up their own money in First Day of Issue inventory when they can get this designation anytime in the future? They merely stockpile some sealed boxes and wait a few years to see how the market develops. In the best case, they submit a sealed box a few years from now and cash in at the poor, naive TV shopping show coin buyer's expense. At worst, the market doesn't develop and all those sealed boxes of coins can simply be spent or sold to dealers raw.

If PCGS was smart, it would end this abuse by requiring dealers to submit coins in a timely manner, on the actual first day of issue, which would increase their revenue now, and put the onus of risk onto the dealers. This practice would also serve to remove a very misleading designation from our coin collecting marketplace, because First Day of Issue would really mean what it says then.

Value of First Day of Issue Coins

Although the coin dealers who sell them charge a premium for the First Day of Issue designation, these coins have virtually no secondary market premium at all. In other words, you'll pay a lot extra to get a coin designated "First Day of Issue," but when you go to sell it, this fact will not help its value; you'll get much less than you paid for the coin. The reason is that experienced dealers know the designation is all but meaningless, and so do experienced collectors. First Day of Issue coins are a very poor investment and I recommend that you never buy them.

Learn more: See my Top 5 Worst Coin Investments.

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