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Another coin I sent off in the same batch as my other Britannia coins was this 1998. 1998 is the first year of issue for the Britannia silver coins in the business strike or "mint state" version, a year after the introduction of the proof version in 1997. This is not one of the rarer dates in terms of mintages, but it is desirable as a first year of issue in a series. I bought it on eBay for a decent price, but had no idea what the results would be for a cross grade. As with the other coins in the submission, this coin was sent in for the modern tier NCS/NGC conservation and grading combination. This costs $28 as of this submission, but with the shipping cost, insurance, submission fee, this coin cost a little over $30 to grade. This is not a true "crossover" as it is not a PCGS slab, but NGC will remove a coin from an ICG slab if the waiver is signed with the submission. This coin, as you can see from the photos, came back an MS 68 in an NGC holder. the 1998 does have a population of 3 in MS 70 on the NGC census and a fair few in MS 69. I believe the MS 68 is a result of a stain near the queen's effigy in the field near the back of her head. It looks like a drop of water hit the coin, evaporated, and left a ring like you would see on a coffee table. It is very small and not that noticeable, but it could of course knock a coin down a grade. One thing to note about this, the ICG slab designated this coin as DCAM for deep cameo. This is not one of the coins that is recognized as having cameo with NGC because the fields are matte and the design is reflective. I've noticed on modern reverse proofs they also don't get a cameo designation. As with the other coins the original label was sent back to be in the flip used during the grading process, but unlike the other ones this flip had two NGC stickers on it. It isn't easy to see, but beneath the second sticker there is a SMS on the original label that NGC used. SMS is an acronym for Special Mint Strike that is usually given to US coins that aren't proof coins, aren't business strike coins, but have a nice matte finish on them like this coin. Again, this doesn't add any value to the coin, but it was interesting to see the process that NGC first assigned the wrong designation - probably because of the ICG label showing the DCAM designation - and then at some point a grader or conservationist corrected it. Well SIlver Forum, what do you think about this coin, is it a grading success or failure?
I know we are only three coins into the Royal Mint Lunar Series, but the silver bullion and proof edition mintage figures have dropped dramatically since the series began. The 2014 Horse silver bullion mintage was 300,000. Followed by 188,888 for the 2015 Sheep and only 138,888 for the 2016 Monkey - a drop of nearly 54%. The 1oz and 5oz silver proofs have also seen big drops and the 2016 editions haven't even sold out at the mint yet. The director of commemorative coins declared the lunar series a huge success in 2015 and the Royal Mint never seem to shy away from cranking out products for increased profits. So it's puzzling to see the eroding mintage figures for such a "successful" series. Is this a sign of much less interest than expected and a failure with the series? Or does it have to do with silver prices and the premium they can apply? Or are they limiting what they pump out in an effort to control quality? Damn milk spots... I know a lot of people don't like the designs, but I personally like them. But if these drops continue I'm not looking forward to the struggle to get my hands on one of the ten 1oz 2025 Snake silver bullion they release