American Silver Eagles vs. ATB 5 oz Silver Bullion Coins

Arches While sales for American Silver Eagle bullion coins have been potentially setting up for another record year, sales for the America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver bullion coin series have remained enticingly low. In recent years, the lower mintages for the ATB series have created premiums for some of the coins well above their intrinsic values.

The American Silver Eagle was introduced in 1986 and remains the only one ounce silver bullion coin produced by the United States Mint. The series enjoys broad recognition around the world and continues to remain a preferred method of physical silver investment for many investors. The series also has a broad collector base who pursue the bullion issues by date, with premiums paid for the lower mintage years or top graded certified examples.

The mintage low for the Silver Eagle series occurs for the 1996-dated issue at 3,603,386 pieces. There are four other issues with mintages below the 5 million level. Since 2008, annual mintages have risen sharply to 20 million or more pieces per year. Last year a new annual sales record was established at 42,675,000 coins despite availability being hampered by rationing for the entire year. The US Mint has finally lifted their rationing program this week, potentially setting the stage for an even higher sales total this year.

The America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver Bullion Coin series was launched in 2010 and represents the only bullion offering from the United States Mint which has a precious metal weight greater than one ounce. The series stands apart from the 5 oz silver coins offered by other world mints due to the wider than typical diameter of 3 inches and the lower than typical denomination of only 25 cents.

The ATB series features five different designs per year, which splits already low annual sales into even lower mintage figures for each individual issue. The current mintage low for a bullion coin is held by the Hawaii Volcanoes and Denali National Park issues at just 20,000 pieces each. In this recent post, I listed the mintage levels for each issue of the series from 2010 to 2013. For 2014 to date, the Great Smoky Mountains design has reached sales of 27,500 pieces, and the Shenandoah National Park design has reached sales of 19,600 pieces. The next design featuring Arches National Park will go on sale to authorized purchasers on Monday June 9, 2014.

Putting Silver Eagle and ATB Silver bullion sales side by side highlights the extreme disparity between the two programs. The graph below indicates the annual sales figures for each program since 2010. The ATB sales (in red) barely register against the massive sales of the Silver Eagles. Keep in mind that the annual ATB sales are split between five different designs.

graph

With mintages in the tens of millions, none of the 2010 to 2014 Silver Eagle bullion coins commands much of a premium above the value of the precious metal content. Since the price of silver was higher in prior years, this would put the value of some bullion purchases under water at the current depressed price of silver.

In contrast, multiple issues from the America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver bullion coin series command premiums above the precious metal content. In several cases, this additional premium outweighs any decline in value related to the precious metal content. Each of the 2010 issues commands a premium, which may be driven by the fragmented distribution for that year, in addition to the mintage levels. All of the 2012 issues commands a premium due to the lower mintages, with significant premiums attached to the Hawaii and Denali issues. Even from last year, the Mount Rushmore design is showing a noticeable premium.

Over the past few years, I have shifted my personal silver bullion purchases from the traditional American Silver Eagles to the ATB series coins as well as some selected lower mintage world silver bullion coins. The additional premiums now attached to some of these coins has outweighed any declines in the intrinsic value of the metal. The strategy will continue to make sense as long as Silver Eagle sales remain high and the ATB series remains under the radar for large scale bullion buyers.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think you can only do one link per comment.

    And Sith, here is the 2012 Numismatic ATB set that just sod on 6/6/14 for over $75/oz.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2012-America-The-Beautiful-5oz-Coin-Set-of-5-coins-/291161251831?pt=Coins_US_Individual&hash=item43ca901ff7&nma=true&si=vCKCF35ZyCixUxs5J%252BtPcc2hyp8%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557#ht_41wt_1204

    Sith, while 2012 is the rarest and commands the most premiums…if you look at any year complete sets sold of the numismatic version…none sell for anywhere close to bullion.

  2. Pool Shark says

    Steve,

    Here’s another example. It’s the cheapest ungraded 2012 Acadia Bullion Atb I could find anywhere on e-bay:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2012-America-The-Beautiful-ACADIA-5oz-999-Silver-ATB-/281349160480?pt=Coins_US_Individual&hash=item4181b77e20

    Selling for $70/oz.

    I bought 10 of them back in November 2012 for just over $35/oz. when silver was around $32/oz. Not bad; doubled my money in 1-1/2 years even though silver dropped $16/oz.

    If I had bought ASE’s instead, I’d be down over 40%.

    Just sayin’…

  3. GoldFishin says

    @Steve…thank you, a picture is worth a thousand words literally!

    @ Mark Rex…thanks Mark, you know I really enjoy speaking with people like yourself. Thank you for your description, they sound very nice! Sometimes the coins can get a few rub marks from being in the tube against each other and some of the bullion coins have die polishing marks that could be thought of as blemishes, but they are not. It sounds like you received a very nice roll.

  4. gatortreke says

    @Hildalgo: The silver price chart is very interesting to review. My only question is the most recent huge spike really begins with the economic crisis in 2007. I’m unsure as to how much all the central bank money printing worldwide changes the base for this chart? Has it reset the base at an order of magnitude higher or does the chart still hold true at the listed levels? I don’t pretend to know the answer but then again, I don’t think the guru’s know either. I’m curious to see if the new EU policy of negative real interest rates has the desired effect, that of forcing more lending by the banks or does it instead convince savers to withdraw their money and send it overseas or park it in their safe or under their mattress.

  5. Pittsburgh P says

    Steve… You can post multiple links each post.

    If you read sith’s comment before goin post crazy he said “but once they sellout all bets are off”… Hmmm, every one of the links you guys posted are SOLD OUT am I mistaken? Most of your examples are from 2012! Why didn’t you just give a link to 2010 or the Hawaii AtBs??? I could give links to any of the 2014 AtBs for a price less than 23$ per oz… Much less if you buy quantity! Some 2013s are still offered by mint authorized dealers for the same. THEY ARE BULLION!!!! Yes, they have lower mintages some comparable to the P versions but they are bullion. AFTER they sell out, as Sith stated, then the popularity and lower numbers drive the prices up…

  6. GoldFishin says

    @Pitt P. – I posted today a response about the current price of silver in relation to longer term prices and gave two harmless, yet informative links, and my message is still awaiting moderation. I don’t know if it is coincidence or maybe a used a word that has to be prescreened. You can read it when it gets approved, if it does. If not I will re-post it in a harmless way.

  7. Pittsburgh P says

    It should get through… I’ve posted with 2 and more links and it got through then earlier in this thread my post with 2 links, like yours, went to moderation. I think I may have used some key words that got it flagged but a few hours later it was visible… Look forward to reading it if/when it gets the thumbs up.

  8. says

    I think the main point relating to this post “Silver Eagles vs ATB’s” is that ATB’s (both versions) after they are sold out each year have a much better track record of going up in value compared to Silver Eagles.

  9. Pittsburgh P says

    @steve I can agree with that… Sry if I came off a little harsh in my response. I said it before, It comes down to buy what you like and you can’t lose. Everyone has their own tastes and veiws.

  10. says

    Let me restate my previous post as this thread is about bullion Silver Eagles vs bullion ATB’s. The cost to purchase Silver Eagles or current year bullion ATB’s is very close to each other. But the bullion Silver Eagles will always sell based on how spot silver prices go, while the bullion ATB’s at least have the potentional (based on mintage/popularity) to appreciate in value above spot silver performance. While I do have a few rolls of silver eagles, my bullion purchases now are in ATB’s.

  11. sith says

    @Steve – You hit the nail on the head. I don’t know why someone would post anything different. IE bullion ATBs sell as numismatics, even the 2010s were sold as bullion, by force but still….

  12. joe says

    @Bernie in Florida,

    There are different reasons people purchase coins. Some purchase coins for their beauty, some purchase them as an investment, etc. My reason for collecting coins lies somewhere in the middle and I’m interested in both. Only a very small minority collects AGBs just for their beauty without caring whether or not they perform well. Similarly, only a very small minority purchases ATB 5 ounce silver coins only for viewing purposes. At some point we all sell our coins or pass them on to our heirs to sell. Purchasing coins with PM content is just too expensive for most of us for the sole purpose of viewing the coin without evaluating financial considerations. Frankly, that’s what modern clad coins are for.

  13. Pool Shark says

    Bottom line:

    The logic is quite simple: If you’re going to buy silver bullion anyway, and both options carry the same initial premium over melt; why wouldn’t you buy the one that has the potential for significant numismatic appreciation based on its rarity/collectability?

  14. Eagle One says

    Received my AtB certified Bullion coins from the Bay today. I purchased them just to see what all the whoopla was all about. My conclusion – they are just 5 oz slugs of Silver Bullion. I can’t get excited about them. The mintage say’s it all. Art Qua Art – can’t see the beauty in such a big blunt silver thing. Tubes are best for the Silver Bug. Sorry; I tried. It is not for me. Eagles Rule.

  15. Eagle One says

    @Dusty Roads
    In Closing, your comment concerning the rotating reverse of the 2015 ASE – IMO, that will be the end to an American Standard. I will be done in 2015 if that is the case. I keep asking for a “D Mint” Brilliant Proof ASE (No Frosted Devices). IMO, Denver has the best press quality of all the mints and could do this. It can be seen in their circulating coinage. Let’s give them an opportunity to finish the series in grand style – if it is going to happen.

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