Heavy demand for precious metals bullion coins helped push annual sales for the United States Mint’s American Silver Eagle bullion coin to a new annual record. During 2009, the US Mint recorded sales of 28,766,500 of the one ounce silver bullion coins.
The American Silver Eagle was introduced in 1986 to provide a convenient and cost effective method for investors to add physical precious metals to their investment portfolios. The Congressionally approved American Eagle Bullion program also includes the American Gold Eagle, introduced in 1986, and American Platinum Eagle, which was introduced in 1997.
Until recently, sales of the silver bullion coins had ranged from a low of about 3.5 million to a high of about 10 million. In 2008, demand for precious metals exploded, bringing sales totals to a new high of 19,583,500. This record only stood for one year, before being surpassed by the annual sales total for 2009.
The increased demand for the bullion coins has not been without consequences. The United States Mint typically produces collectible proof and uncirculated versions of the American Silver Eagle. With the increased demand for the bullion version of the coin, the production of the 2009 collectible coins was delayed and eventually canceled. This represented the first year that a collectible version of the American Silver Eagle has not been produced. The legal requirement for the US Mint to produce bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand was cited as the reason for the cancellation.
Throughout 2009, the availability of the Silver Eagle bullion coins was impacted by the high level of investor demand. From January 1 to June 15, the coins were subject to an allocation program that limited the number of coins that authorized purchasers could acquire. Sales of the bullion coins were suspended completely from November 24 to December 6. The allocation program went back into effect from December 7 to the end of the year.
The launch of the 2010 Silver Eagle has been slightly delayed, as the US Mint continued production of the 2009-dated coins through year end. The 2010-dated coins will be available for authorized purchasers to order starting on January 19, 2010. Until this date, 2009-dated coins will continue to be sold as long as inventory remains.