30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Pinnacle Age of Coin Collecting

When I was in elementary school... sometime around the 3rd or 4th grade... I almost started a coin collection.  One day I was digging through my parent's closet when I came across a box filled with "proof" sets.  I asked my parents about them and they said they bought them to honor our birth year.

Right around the same time I made that discovery... my mother was volunteering at my school's book fair and she asked me if I wanted a coin collecting kit.  Although I was tempted... ultimately I passed... and focused on baseball cards.

Almost two decades later... Pinnacle attempted to bring the two hobbies together by releasing a product called Pinnacle Mint which included both cards and coins.  I'm pretty sure I thought they were kind of cool, but at the time money was tight... so I only opened up a few packs here or there.

Fast forward to 2023... and I stumble across a blog post featuring one of these coins... which inspired me to look for some on eBay.  There was an auction with a $1 starting bid (+ $10.40 shipping), so I added it to my watch list and waited patiently.  A few days later, I placed my bid with seconds remaining and won the auction.  After shipping and taxes, the 1997 and 1998 Pinnacle Mint Coin sets set me back $11.77.

In the spirit of this being National Coin Week, I figured I'd show them off for your viewing pleasure.

Let's start off with the thirty bronze coins from the 1997 set:

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #1-#6
Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez,
Cal Ripken Jr., Mo Vaughn, and Juan Gonzalez

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #7-#12
Mike Piazza, Albert Belle, Chipper Jones,
Andruw Jones, Greg Maddux, and Hideo Nomo

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #13-#18
Jeff Bagwell, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire,
Derek Jeter, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #19-#24
Chuck Knoblauch, Dante Bichette, Tony Gwynn,
Ken Caminiti, Gary Sheffield, and Tim Salmon

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #25-#30
Ivan Rodriguez, Henry Rodriguez, Barry Larkin,
Ryan Klesko, Brian Jordan, and Jay Buhner

Overall... the checklist is filled with big names from the 90's... including eleven guys who eventually got into Cooperstown.  Honestly... the only questionable name that popped out was Henry Rodriguez.  However after looking at his stats over on Baseball Reference, he had some solid seasons for the Cubs and Expos in the mid to late 90's.

The coins themselves are pretty cool for being a novelty item.  Here's a closer look at the Tony Gwynn:

1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #21

The front of each coin features the player's head and name, along with the team logo and coin number.  All of the coin backs look exactly the same:

Pinnacle made sure to remind collectors that these were produced in limited quantitiesHow limited?  Well... according to Baseballcardpedia, there were approximately 94,400 bronze coins produced for each player.  That's a lot of coins floating around the hobby.

If that weren't enough... collectors could also pull nickel-silver, 24kt. gold plated, solid silver, and solid gold coins too, but the bronze are considered the common coins.

Back in the day... the suggested retail price was $3.99 a pack with each containing three cards and two coins.  That price seems a little steep, but it must of sold well enough, because they released another baseball set in 1998... with 30 coins too:

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #1-#6
Jeff Bagwell, Albert Belle, Barry Bonds,
Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, and Juan Gonzalez

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #7-#12
Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter,
Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, and Greg Maddux

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #13-#18
Tino Martinez, Mark McGwire, Hideo Nomo,
Andy Pettitte, Mike Piazza, and Cal Ripken Jr.

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #19-#24
Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa,
Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, and Larry Walker

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #25-#30
Jose Cruz Jr., Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero,
Livan Hernandez, Andruw Jones, and Scott Rolen

Another solid checklist... with nearly 50% of the players being hall of famers.  This year's coin design was a little more intricate and attractive (in my humble opinion):

1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #8

Each of the bronze coins in the 1998 set have same mesmerizing design on the back:

Personally... I think the back design is a little too busy.  It makes me feel like I'm staring into  one of those Magic Eye posters from the 90's.

In the end... I feel like collectors either like gimmicky products like Pinnacle Mint or they really, really don't.  I like them enough... if the price is right.  I was willing to spend up to $16 (that includes shipping and tax) for these two sets.  The fact that I was able to get them for a little under 20¢ per coin is a win in my book.

What about you?

Did you buy any of these coins back in the 90's?  Do you collect them as part of your player and team collections?

Leave your thoughts down below.

The coin collecting saga doesn't end there.  Back in February, my father gave me some quarter sets from the 2000's.  He wasn't exactly sure why he bought them, but he made it sound like it was part of a subscription program where they'd send him new coins each month.  I haven't had the time to go through them yet.  Maybe I'll write up a post in honor of next year's National Coin Week.

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


night owl said...

I wasn't collecting at the time, so I didn't buy any of these. I haven't tried to pursue any of them since -- I've never been into coins. The only ones I've seen are the ones still attached to those Pinnacle Mint cards.

Jeremya1um said...

I purchase a pack of the ‘98 version I believe. Each card had a Pinnacle mint logo the size of one of the real coins, and the logo had bronze, silver, and platinum versions of memory serves correctly, and you got a coin and a doe cut card in every pack. The die cut card has the logo cut out, and I believe the popular thing to do was to try and acquire the corresponding coin of the same player and place it inside the die cut card. Another ‘90’s Pinnacle concept that may have led to its demise.

Sean said...

Oh neat, I never saw these back in the day but for 11$ that is a pretty good deal. I remember collecting some of the Topps coin sets that came out in the late 80s and thinking they were quite cool.

I have a small coin collection on the side (regular coins rather than baseball ones) but I've always viewed the two hobbies as quite seperate from each other so I've never gone all in on collecting baseball coins (same with postage stamps).

Dennis said...

I was a fan of these and bought some packs (and singles much later). That said I guess I'm not too disappointed that they never really became a thing after those couple years they were made. Nice pickups for the price!

Johnnys Trading Spot said...

I don't collect coins per say. I do however have a HUGE coin collection. I got most of them from my Uncle and I sold a couple of cigar boxes of them before realizing I cost myself 2K. Said nope, I'll hang on to them, after all they're old they're silver halves and I have over 100 pounds of them sitting in my dining room. I also got a ton of pennies from him which actually had my interest because I toyed with the idea of collecting just pennies one of each mint mark for each year. I probably have half of 3/4 of them guessing of course because I really don't have the time to "sort" it out, and then how do you display thousands of pennies in an organized attractive manner? For now those are sitting in boxes still in the garage. Except for the ones I had before Fred's addition which were just thrown into one of the dresser drawers. Another thing I sort of collected inline with those Pinnacle coins were Chuck E Cheese coins. I kept one of each year I had from taking the kids to play. I have a boatload of them. Nowadays its a digital watchband, but you can win the old coins from certain games. Now that I could probably do easily. (those are laying on top of my dresser right now. I had them out the other day. AS for the Pinnacle coins, I have all of the 97 Braves (4) bronze and 1 goldish color one. I'm pretty sure I have the 98's but according to my excel sheet I don't have any of the 3 Braves coins, doesn't seem right to me.

Nick said...

I've always thought I should find coins/coin collecting more interesting than I actually do. I just can't bring myself to get excited over them.

Gregory said...

Fun post, Fuji! Not only do I remember these and have a few in my collection, but I actually keep a couple in my golf bag to use as ball markers when I'm on the green. Currently I've got two hockey versions: Teemu Selanne and Wayne Gretzky.

SumoMenkoMan said...

National Coin Week? Interesting. Never got into coins, but have some proof sets from back in the day. Cool coins and they seem like they were the right price!

Billy Kingsley said...

I'm a coin collector...but it's difficult for me because I'm allergic to nickel, which is what most of our modern coins are made out of. Handling them makes my skin turn green and burn, so I've had to cut back significantly. I am also a member of the American Numismatic Association and am really looking forward to visiting their museum in about 2 weeks.

I know it's pedantic but what Pinnacle made is not coins. Coins have monetary value and were released by governments. These are medals. Anyone can make a medal for any reason. Medals have a much smaller collector base but some of them can be EXTREMELY rare, with less than 5 known serving examples common. I specifically collect medals made by automotive companies although like cards I'm a collector of opportunity more than a hunter/gatherer.

Tokens, which are metal coin replacements/substitute (like Chuck E. Cheese tokens ) are generally rarer still with many from pre WWII being known by one example or less. In fact, they are very difficult to collect because there was usually no documentation of them unlike coins or medals so unless it specifically calls out where it's from on it, you just don't know the source of it.

Billy Kingsley said...

Surviving, not serving. Autocorrect attack.

Nick Vossbrink said...

These look like MLB-themed arcade tokens. Especially the backs.

Is funny. I collected both coins and cards as a kid which makes it seem like this kind of thing would've been perfect for me…except I know that they're instead something I would've absolutely hated. I had both a serious problem with anything coinlike that wasn't intended to be currency as well as the way baseball cards were creeping into every other hobby at the time. Strong strong purist tendencies back then (in part as a way of sticking to a budget).

Nowadays? I'd find a way to slide the Bonds token into the Giants binder just like I need to find a way to slide last year's Sally Ride quarter into my Stanford binder.

John Sharp said...

Don't remember these at all, and certainly would've gotten the Larkin and Jeter coins for my Michigan collection.

Good Job! 👍

Jeff B - Wax Pack Wonders said...

I don't have any of these since they don't feature any of my PC players, but I do have some of the earlier Topps coins.

The Lost Collector said...

I've got the Tinos and a few others. Have them both within the card and outside of it. I have a small stack of coins and when Topps did those Poker chips or whatever they were? They all usually just sit loosely in a random box...they don't store very easily.

The Snorting Bull said...

I could never get into the Coin sets at any point. I remember in the late 1980s, my brother used to get packs of the Topps Coins and I never understood the appeal. I think I have a few of these hanging out, but mostly because they were Cardinals and I bought them for the sake of owning them.

Fuji said...

night owl - i'm glad you have a line. i probably need to draw one soon, because i don't have the space or finances to collect everything that captures my eye

jeremya1um - yup. i remember buying a few packs of football and matching up the coins with the die-cut cards.

sean - i went through a phase where i collected the late 80's/early 90's topps coins too. as for real coins, i have some that my dad just passed down to me, but i don't really know much about them

dennis - good point. i'm also glad they were only around a few years.

johnnys trading spot - wow. that coin collection sounds impressive.if you ever become an expert on coins, maybe you can take a look at the ones my father collected and tell me if they're worth anything.

nick - i'm glad i chose cards over coins, stamps, or comics as a kid. but i don't mind having a few of each lingering around in my collection.

gregory - i love the ball marker idea. i think i have some extra football coins laying around.

sumomenkoman - that's my problem. if they're cheap, i'll buy them :D

billy kingsley - sorry to hear about the nickel allergy. that doesn't sound fun. and thanks for the lesson. honestly had no idea these were medals. i've used the term tokens since my childhood when i'd spend time at the arcade or like you pointed out... chuck e cheese.

nick vossbrink - it would be so cool if nickel city and chuck e cheese used limited edition mlb tokens. i totally would have collected them.

john sharp - the good news is you can still grab them now at a fraction of the price :D

wax pack wonders - maybe one of these days i'll write a post on those late 80's/early 90's coins. i actually just bought some from the online dime box a few weeks ago.

the lost collector - storage is totally a pain. i have a few of those poker chips too. they're sitting a 100ct slider box.

the snorting bull - i totally understand. i wish i had a line that i wouldn't cross. but i'm a hoarder at heart.