Sales of the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin started off strong, selling more than 40,000 coins in the first four days. Following the opening week, the pace of sales has experienced a sharp and continuing decline.
The table below presents the weekly sales figures reported by Numismaster. The last column shows the incremental increase from the prior report.
|2009 Ultra High Relief Sales History|
Reasons behind the slowing pace of sales
After watching the pace of sales slow for the first few weeks, I thought that the increasing price of the coin may have been impacting sales. In accordance with the US Mint’s new pricing policy, the price of the coin can be adjusted weekly in response to the changing price of gold. The price of the coin was adjusted upwards several times in the first weeks of offering. These increases may have caused some customers to delay placing orders until the price retreated. While the price increases may be a contributing factor, they are probably not the main driver. Last week, the price of the coin was reduced, but sales showed a sharper decline.
A bigger contributor to the slowing sales is probably the one per household limit, which has been in place since the start of sales. The US Mint has stated that they evaluate the limit weekly, but there has been no indication that the limit will be lifted or changed. Although some people have gotten around the limit by enlisting the help of friends and family, the household limit still puts an ultimate cap on orders.
A final potential contributor might be the numerous problems surrounding the offering, which may have put off some customers. Problems have included the initial blank supply, miscommunications on shipping dates, website security, shipping security, not following FIFO for shipping, and production problems for the companion book. With problems mounting, some may have decided to forgo or delay their order until the issues have been resolved.
Observations and Projections
One interesting observation is that for the last three out of four weeks, the 2009 Lincoln Commemorative Silver Dollars have outsold the 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagles. This is computed based on the dollar amount of sales for each offering. For much of the past year, the US Mint has heavily promoted the UHR Double Eagle. They have not very heavily promoted the Lincoln Commemorative. It’s very interesting to see customers having basically the opposite reaction.
If the average pace of 2009 UHR Double Eagle sales manages to stay around the 1,000 coins per week level, this would put the final mintage around 90,000 coins. A lot can certainly happen to impact the pace of sales such as lifting the household limit or changes in the price of gold. Nonetheless, I think a mintage of less than 100,000 is possible.
An interesting point of reference is the 2006 Proof Gold Buffalo Coin. This was the first year for the new American Buffalo Gold Coins and the first time the US Mint struck coins in 24 karat gold. Similar to the UHR, it also featured a classic coin design. The 2006 Proof Gold Buffalo was priced at $800 when gold was at $583.10 and had a household limit of ten. The US Mint sold over 250,000 coins.
Before the UHR was launched, I thought we might see a similar final mintage. Now the possibility seems remote.