These bullion coins are not to be confused with the collectible versions of the coins that the US Mint typically sells directly to collectors. The bullion coins are distributed through a network of authorized purchasers and can be purchased by individuals from bullion dealers or coin dealers typically at a mark up above the price of the precious metal.
So far during 2009, the US Mint has only produced two bullion coin offerings, the 2009 American Silver Eagle and 1 oz. 2009 American Gold Eagle. At the end of 2008, the US Mint announced the delayed release of all other 2009 bullion coins. Typically, fractional Gold Eagles, 24 karat Gold Buffalo, and Platinum Eagle bullion coins would also be offered.
The monthly sales totals for the 2009 Silver Eagle and 1 oz. 2009 Gold Eagle bullion coins appears below.
|2009 Silver Eagle Monthly Sales|
|2009 Gold Eagle Monthly Sales|
If the current pace of sales continues for the rest of the year, Silver Eagle sales would reach about 30 million and Gold Eagle sales would reach 1.5 million. This would represent a new all time high for Silver Eagles. The previous all time high was set last year when 19,583,500 coins were sold. The all time high for 1 oz. Gold Eagle sales was reached in 1998 when 1,518,000 coins were sold.
While it might seem that increased demand is driving this year’s potentially record breaking Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coin sales, I would offer a different interpretation.
The US Mint has been selling gold and silver bullion coins to its authorized purchasers on an allocated basis since March 2008 for Silver Eagles and August 2008 for Gold Eagles. These allocations are necessary because the US Mint has not been able to obtain sufficient supplies of precious metals blanks to meet full demand. The increased sales levels of recent months suggest that the US Mint has been able to obtain greater supplies of precious metals blanks. In other words, demand is not increasing, but rather a greater portion of existing demand can finally be satisfied. This is further supported by the fact that premiums charged by precious metals dealers for Gold and Silver Eagles have been falling over the past few weeks.
The possibility that the US Mint is fulfilling more demand, might mean good for coin collectors is on the horizon. Earlier this year, the US Mint had announced that the production of collectible versions of the 2009 Silver Eagle and 2009 Gold Eagle would be temporarily suspended. Under law, the US Mint is required to produce bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. Therefore, until the demand for bullion coins could be met, collector versions of the coins (which are not required under law) would have to wait.
In some cases, the length of delay for the collector coins is already substantial. Last year, the proof Silver Eagle was released on January 3, 2008. The uncirculated version was released on March 17, 2008. The proof versions of the Gold Eagle had been releaesd on March 4, 2008 with the uncirculated versions released on April 1, 2008.
The collectible Silver Eagle coins expected to be released this year are the 2009 Proof Silver Eagle and 2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle. The collectible Gold Eagles expected for this year are the 2008-W Uncirculaed Gold Eagle (one ounce coin only) and a full range of 2009 Proof Gold Eagles including 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and the 4 coin set.