What They Are, What They Are Not.
The Official Alaska State Medallion
This medallion, made by the Alaska Mint, is sanctioned by the state legislature under State Statute: 44.09.017. A design contest is held each year, open to all Alaska residents and judged by the Alaska Council of the Arts. As mandated by law the winning design can be used only for the Official State Medallion. Also by law the medallion must be made of .999 Alaska Silver, must have a serial number on the rim edge, and total mintage must be limited to demand only for one year, after which the die will be destroyed. Because of the medallion's beautiful designs and limited edition minting, coin and precious metals collectors seek both current and back issue Alaska medallions. Only once in 16 years of issue has an official state medallion mintage been above 10,000 in number. Several times the yearly mintage numbers have been under 5,000! Consequently all back issue Alaska State medallions have historically shown price increases, some very high, due to supply and demand.
The Official Iditarod Medallion
The Iditarod medallion is not a state sanctioned strike. It is, however, the only medallion recognized by the Iditarod Trail Committee (The Iditarod is a sled dog race held each March going from Anchorage to Nome, 1,049 miles). But like the yearly state medallion the Iditarod is made of pure silver, serial numbered and is a limited edition. The number of Iditarod medallions struck each year is only 3,500. Consequently this medallion is also sought by collectors and can show dramatic price appreciation.
The generic Alaska Medallion
Based in Anchorage the Alaska Mint (a private mint) has a primary focus of striking keepsake silver medallions (not to be confused with coinage). The mint produces hundreds of different designs – most of them unlimited in number. There are bear medallions, northern light medallions, loon medallions, whale medallions and eagle medallions just to name few. All of these medallions sell at a premium to spot silver price and very few if any ever go up in value (unlike their limited edition medallions). There are other mints in Alaska and their strikes and values also fit this profile. However, there are two medallions produced yearly that DO have the potential to increase in value due to limited mintage and post production demand. These two medallions are the Official State Series and the Iditarod Series.
A NOTE ABOUT PRICE APPRECIATION....
While it is true that total mintage numbers (rarity), along with after market supply and demand, help determine values of Alaska medallions, it must be pointed out that geographical area also plays a major role. These medallions are widely recognized for their beautiful artwork. They are specifically recognized in Alaska for their rarity. As more and more people travel to Alaska and become aware of the program, the medallions are gaining a wider acceptance of value. Prices listed on these pages are prices that have been asked for and supported in Alaska as determined by the Alaska Mint. Until these medallions gain a wider audience, your local coin dealer's "offer to purchase" (without knowing the program), may be very different than prices listed here.
A state medallion program such as this takes time to catch on and be accepted and recognized throughout the greater medallion community. Other medallions minted in the past, from other states, are now known as being quite rare and command very high values. It is possible that the Alaska State program will someday join this group. Until that time we recommend you collect these medallions only for their beauty. Should the value appreciate years down the road...all the better.