Revised sales figures for the collectible 2008-W Proof Gold Buffalo Coins have been released by the United States Mint. This follows the previous release of revised figures for the 2008 Gold, Platinum, and Silver Eagles and the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins. The revised numbers are surprising and result in overall mintage increases for all Proof Gold Buffalo coins.
Below is a table presenting the revised sales figures for the collectible 2008 Gold Buffalo coins by product option. A total column is added to compute the total mintage for coins across all product options. I am also reproducing the numbers for the collectible uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins, which were previously released.
|2008 Gold Buffalo||Per Option||Total|
|1 oz. Uncircualted||3,025||9,074|
|1/2 oz. Uncirculated||3,237||16,908|
|1/4 oz. Uncirculated||3,900||9,949|
|1/10 oz. Uncirculated||11,380||17,429|
|4 Coin Uncirculated Set||6,049|
|Double Prosperity Set||7,622|
|1 oz. Proof||11,060||25,496|
|1/2 oz. Proof||2,184||16,620|
|1/4 oz. Proof||1,331||15,767|
|1/10 oz. Proof||11,080||25,516|
|4 Coin Proof Set||14,436|
The revised figures for the proof coins show a huge drop for sales of the individual 1/4 oz and 1/2 oz coins. These were previously reported as 4,638 (1/2 oz) and 5,972 (1/4 oz). This was offset by an increase in the number of reported sales for the 4 Coin Set, which changed from 7,931 to 14,436. The net result is increased mintages for all of the 2008 Proof Gold Buffalo coins. Find the full comparison on Numismatic News.
After the recent updates, the mintages for the 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo coins are now well below the mintages for the corresponding proof coins (except the 1/2 oz). Until now the proof versions seem to have brought higher premiums on the secondary market. It will be interesting to see if the revised numbers cause this to change.
The big changes have made some people justifiably skeptical of the new numbers, and sales figures reported by the US Mint in general. I don’t have a good explanation for the huge shifts in the numbers, but the unique confluence of events in late 2008 might have created an environment for flawed sales reports or large subsequent adjustments.
For the majority of 2008, collectible gold coins available from the US Mint had been priced at excessive premiums. The coins were released at a time when the price of gold was high and prices were not adjusted after the price of gold moved lower. The collectible platinum coins were also priced at high premiums and were completely unavailable for several weeks at a time while the price of platinum fell precipitously. Starting in 2009, the US Mint began a new pricing policy which made coin prices more responsive to changes in precious metals prices and also eliminated the need to lengthy sales suspensions.
Late in the year, the US Mint announced sweeping product discontinuations which would eliminate nearly all Gold Buffalo offerings, nearly all Platinum Eagle offerings, and all fractional uncirculated Gold Eagle offerings. Just a few days later, the remaining 2008 gold and platinum coin products had their prices slashed to bring premiums into line with precious metals prices.
The combination of the discontinuation announcement and lower prices set off a rapid pace of sales into the end of the year. Products quickly sold out or entered backorder status, with some backorders extending for months. Products previously purchased at higher prices might have been returned or customers may have canceled orders not yet delivered. This chaotic environment may have caused flaws with the sales reporting for this period.