Sales of the United States Mint’s American Silver Eagle bullion coins have recently moved into record territory. For the year to date, the Mint has sold 29,110,500 of the one ounce silver bullion coins, which exceeds last year’s record annual sales total.
This will mark the third consecutive year that sales have set a new record. In 2008, the total of 19,583,500 nearly doubled the previous annual high set in 2002. In 2009, sales rose further to reach 28,766,500. For the current year, sales seem poised to break well above the 30 million ounce mark by year-end.
By law, the US Mint is required to produce the Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. This has caused sales to fluctuate widely based on demand. The lowest annual sales level occurred in 1996 when 3,466,000 bullion coins were sold. Incredibly, this annual sales total was exceeded by this year’s monthly sales totals for January and May.
The record high annual sales totals from the past three years may not actually represent the full extent of public demand, as at times the Mint has been forced to suspend or ration supplies. These tactics were implemented during periods when demand for Silver Eagles exceeded the available precious metals blanks.
American Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Sales
*through November 8, 2010
Another consequence of the record demand of recent years has been the cancellation of the collector versions of the coins in 2009. Because the US Mint is not legally required to produce coins for collectors, production of bullion coins took precedence. The collectible uncirculated and proof 2009 Silver Eagles were canceled, and all incoming silver planchets supplies were used to strike more bullion coins.
The US Mint plans to offer the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle later this month, with a release date set for November 19. The one ounce proof coins are priced at $45.95 each, with a household limit of 100 units. Availability and pricing were announced on October 4, when the market price of silver was much lower. So far no adjustments to the original details have been made.
Also scheduled for release before the end of the year are the America the Beautiful silver bullion coins. This new bullion program will feature duplicate designs from the current circulating quarter dollar series struck in 5 ounces of .999 fine silver. The US Mint has indicated that as many as 100,000 coins for each of the five designs will be produced for the current year, although a release date and premium levels charged to authorized purchasers still remain unknown.