Stampede or Last Gasp for Buyers?
By David C. Harper
The U.S. Mint
had a good day of sales when the 2010 gold and
silver American Eagles became available to the
authorized distributors Jan. 19.
Buyers snapped up 2,440,000 silver American
Gold American Eagle buyers took 49,000 of the
one-ounce coins, only these were divided between
old and new dates. The 2010 coins totaled 30,500
and the 2009 total was 18,500.
For a single day, these numbers are huge.
Compared to final mintages for last year, they
Trying to figure out where we go from here and
whether we will get the proof versions back in
2010 and even the “W” mintmarked uncirculated
version is basically a bet on whether you
believe the Mint will be able to get ahead of
the demand curve in the present 12-month period
The Austrian Mint, no slouch in the world
bullion coin market, said some weeks ago that
demand for its gold coins would fall by 30
percent. A similar fall in gold American Eagles
would take the 1,386,000 mintage of the 2009
gold Eagles down below a million pieces to
970,200. That would leave more than enough
planchets available for any and all collector
A demand decline would also allow the early
return to the market of fractional gold American
Eagles. In 2009 the market had to wait until
December to get them.
Can demand for the silver American Eagles top
the 2009 total of 29,134,000 coins?
There is little U.S. historical precedent from
which to make a judgment. Look back at the
mintages of the 1921 Morgans and 1922 and 1923
Peace dollars and you see mintage numbers of the
same order of magnitude.
However, demand for silver dollars then was
officially induced as they were replacements for
the 270 million coins that were melted under the
terms of the 1918 Pittman Act. The Treasury
needed them to back Silver Certificates.
By 1928 the official demand ended and Peace
dollar mintages were suspended until the
economically unsettled years of 1934 and 1935
when President Franklin Roosevelt was trying any
and every means to get the economy rolling.
Instead of a renaissance, the 1930s Peace dollar
mintages were the last until an abortive 1964
attempt to revive them.
As with gold, any decline in silver Eagle demand
in 2010 would hasten the return of the proof and
the “W” uncirculated versions this year.
Once collectors have gotten used to the gap in
their silver Eagle proof sets where the 2009
coins should be, they likely will climb back on
the bandwagon and buy proofs at levels similar
to or even higher than before.
Collectors who feel deprived of something often
buy in greater numbers at their next
opportunity. That could mean loads of silver
proof Eagles in 2010.
So back to the results of Jan. 19: however you
interpret the numbers, the salient fact is the
Mint has generated sales of approximately $100
million in one day. That boggles my mind as I
recall 1968 annual proof set sales of just $15