Because this is a bullion coin, it is not offered for sale directly by the United States Mint. Rather the coins are distributed through the US Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. The AP’s purchase the coins directly and then resell to other dealers and the public.
The most recent information available from the US Mint indicates that 79,500 of the 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coins have already been sold. Monthly sales have not been at this level since the heavy demand experienced when the coins debuted in 2006. For all of 2008 (amidst a few suspensions), the US Mint had sold 172,000 coins.
The numbers show that there is a very high level of pent up demand for Gold Buffalo coins. Until recently, the coins had been unavailable for nearly a year. The fact that they are finally being offered near the end of the year also seems to have created the impression that they will only be available in limited numbers. If another strong week of sales follows, the mintage of the 2009 Gold Buffalo might end up exceeding some of the prior year mintages.
The strong sales also suggest that the US Mint might not be having the same sourcing problems for 24 karat gold blanks, or they have at least acquired a significant supply. I have not heard any indication that the 2009 Gold Buffalo bullion coins are subject to rationing, so apparently the US Mint is comfortable that they can meet unrestricted demand from the public.
I think that the incredibly strong bullion sales figures have some implications for the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo.
When the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo is released (tentatively) on October 29, 2009, there will definitely be a rush to order. As with the bullion coins, the pent up demand and impression of limited availability will have people ordering early and, if possible, heavily.
The key question is: How many proof coins will the US Mint produce? Unless a stated maximum mintage is provided, I think the number could be significant. Rather than risk another public relations black eye, the US Mint might produce the coins in high quantities to ensure that any collector who to purchase the coin has ample opportunity to do so. This is contingent on the supply of blanks, which as mentioned, might not be an issue for 24 karat gold coins.
If the total number of 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins greatly exceeds the mintage for the prior year, secondary market potential would be curtailed. While the coin is undeniably beautiful and will be heavily collected, for now I would be wary of anticipating big gains. I mentioned this possibility in this prior post, and the new information on bullion sales lends it some further support.
Once more information is available from the US Mint on the 2009 Proof Gold Buffalo coins, I will have it posted here, along with any reevaluation of the situation.