Mintage Figures And Issue Limits Of Coins

Author: Adam Hopkin - Numismatic Editor

Published: 7 Oct 2019

Last Updated: 25 May 2023


For popular collectable coins, proof sets and rare coins, issue limits and mintage figures are often implemented to bolster their appeal and in turn demand.

Key Takeaways

  • Issue Limits are set before production.
  • Mintage figures are only known after production is complete.
  • Actual Quantity Issued, which may be a very small number, and is likely to be an estimate.

What Are Mintage Figures And Issue Limits? 

Essentially both the Mintage Figure and Issue Limit are methods of quantifying and recording the number of coins being distributed with the release of a new set. However, there are key differences in their function and the terms should not be used interchangeably. Simply put, the mintage figure is the quantity of a coin that has been struck, whereas the Issue Limit is the maximum quantity of a coin authorised to be produced (or better to be still) issued.

Peter Rabbit 50 pence, reverse 

2019 Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit 50 pence reverse

Gruffalo 50 pence reverse

2019 Gruffalo 50 pence reverse

Mintage Figures 

Also commonly referred to as the "mintage", as mentioned the mintage figure is the number of an individual coin or set that has been struck and usually the same as the number of coins issued. The mintage figures released by some mints throughout the year relate to the annual production of coins, and are not necessarily guaranteed to be coins of the same date; preventing the excessive waste of old, yet servicable dies at the end of the year. Some mints may actually publish the accurate production figures for coins of each date, others may not.

Any mintage figures we quote on our website are sourced as accurately as possible, sometimes from published coin catalogues, others from official mint sources. Figures quoted for proof sets, for example, we will normally take from the certificates issued with the sets, although these usually show an "issue limit", rather than the quantity actually minted, released, or sold.

Issue Limits 

Again, the issue limit is the maximum quantity of coins authorised to be produced (or better to be still) issued for a new release. This is often dictated by the anticipated demand for the release, however the actual number of coins produced and released differs from the issue limit and is usually lower due to over anticipated desire for the release. It is not uncommon for some issues to be "unlimted", with the mint then producing as many as it is able to sell. Usually the actual mintage figure is not known, or is not made public, for some time after the date year of the coin or coins.

We are sometimes asked why we have quoted a mintage figure when selling a particular coin set, when the customer then reads the certificate with the coin or set which states a higher issue limit. The answer is that we have quoted the actual mintage rather than the issue limit, but we will try state both if there is a difference, and we are aware of the two figures.

Quantity Issued

While this is often the same as the "Mintage", it can be less for at least two different reasons:

1) Some coins may be rejected and melted after mintage, without minting replacements. In this case, the difference between the two figures might be very small.

2) An entire issue may be cancelled after production but before a significant quantity have been issued. In this rare case, the difference between the two figures is normally very significant.

For example https://24carat.co.uk/frame.php?url=product.html the 1973 Ecuador 2 Sucres mintage was 200,000. Krause states or estimates the quantity issued as 35 pieces.

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