As of September 2, 2010, the United States Mint is no longer rationing sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins to its network of authorized purchasers. Nonetheless, the prospects of 2010 Proof Silver Eagles for collectors remains uncertain.
By law, the United States Mint is required to produce Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. For the past two years, elevated levels of demand for physical precious metals have resulted in brief sales suspensions when US Mint inventories have been depleted and an allocation program imposed at times when the Mint has been unable to meet full demand.
An additional consequence of the high investor demand for bullion coins was the cancellation of the 2009 Proof Gold and Silver Eagles. Since these popular collector offerings were not mandated by law, the US Mint sourced all incoming precious metals blanks supplies to the production of bullion coins.
The current year started with sales of Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins both subject to allocation. The program had been reinstated following a brief sales suspension in November 2009. The rationing of Gold Eagle bullion coins ended in March 2010, but the rationing of Silver Eagle bullion coin supplies continued until now.
The US Mint recently indicated that 2010 Proof Gold Eagles will be offered in mid-October, suggesting ample supplies of gold blanks to cover both bullion and collector coin demand.
In July, when demand for silver bullion showed no signs of slowing, statements delivered by the Director of the United States Mint indicated that an amendment to existing law was being considered, which would allow the production of collectible Silver Eagles even if full demand for bullion coins was unmet. To date, this legislation has not been introduced.
The recent end of Silver Eagle rationing suggests a possibility for the 2010 Proof Silver Eagles, even without a change in law. If demand for bullion coins remains subdued for a sufficient time period, this may provide the US Mint with the window opportunity it needs to produce the popular collector coins.
For the year to date, the US Mint has recorded sales of 23,990,500 of the one ounce American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Last year, annual sales had reached a record high of 28,766,500 coins.