Mitch Spivack: The 1998 $100 Mint State Platinum is a fascinating coin. On "paper", the coin shows a mintage of about 133,000 pieces. Yet, about twelve years later, PCGS has only graded a scant 205 MS69's and a single MS70 coin. Compare these figures to the 2003 $100 Mint State coin. PCGS has graded 1,806 MS69's and 9 MS70's of the 2003 $100 Mint State Platinum (and even a bit more as I believe the "multiholder" pops are not included in these figures). Yet, the mintage on the 2003 MS $100 is only 8,007 coins. So, PCGS has graded more than 22.5% of the entire 2003 mintage in the MS69 grade, but well under a 1/4 of 1% of the 1998 mintage. How is it possible for PCGS to have only slabbed 205 MS69 coins from a 133,000 mintage for 1998, as compared to 1,806 MS69 coins from an 8,007 mintage for 2003? I believe there is an interesting answer to this peculiar situation.
My research suggests that a signficant percentage of the 1998 $100 MS mintage was likely used in commerce in connection with investors selecting platinum bullion for their retirement accounts. An unverified report I received suggests that financial institutions and related entities may have maintained large quantities of the 1998 $100 mintage as physical platinum to back their investors' purchases. As investors took actual positions in bullion platinum, "live" coins were counted and recounted multiple times to document and legally create these trading positions. My research continues on trying to document exactly where many of the 133,000 1998 $100's are residing and whether their use in commerce has materially harmed their original fresh gem quality.
I had the pleasure many years ago of reviewing (and "cherry-picking" for purchase) all of the PCGS-MS69's as well as the single PCGS-MS70 coin that were graded from the submission to PCGS of a "monster" box of 1998 $100's. The PCGS-MS70 coin is a lovely specimen - I have actually sold the coin twice now over the years. In my opinion, true MS70 quality $100 Platinum coins, pre-2004, are scarce coins. And, this 1998 is no exception - don't be fooled by its "high" mintage. This coin may end up with a history somewhat similar to a number of Morgan Dollars whose rarity today is not tied to its "reported" high mintage figures.