The United States Mint has informed authorized purchasers that 2013 American Silver Eagle bullion coins are temporarily sold out. This follows intense demand for the silver bullion coins since the initial release on January 7, 2013.
On the first day of availability for 2013-dated Silver Eagles, authorized purchasers had placed orders for 3,937,000 of the one ounce coins. This seemed to mark the highest one-day sales in the entire history of the program. The strong demand has continued with sales now having reached 6,007,000 according to the latest information posted on the Mint's website.
The frenzied pace of orders for 2013 Silver Eagles has been driven by the typical rush to acquire the most recently dated coins, as well as pent up demand following three weeks of unavailability. The US Mint had unexpectedly sold out of the 2012-dated coins on December 17, 2012 with no coins available to order until the launch of the 2013-dated coins.
The US Mint expects the temporary sell out of the 2013-dated coins to last until on or about the week of January 28, 2013. At that point, sales will be resumed under an allocation process. During previous periods of strong demand for gold and silver bullion coins, the Mint has used an allocation process to ration available supplies amongst their primary distributors.
Periodic suspensions and rationing of Silver Eagle bullion coins had become almost commonplace between the years of 2008 and 2010. This situation would led to the cancellation of collector versions of the coins in 2009 and a 2010 Congressional hearing which highlighted the inefficiencies of the Mint's bullion coin programs. The Mint managed to work its way out of these problems by implementing process improvements at the West Point Mint, increasing the number of precious metals blank suppliers, and adding supplemental Silver Eagle production at the San Francisco Mint, while at the same time demand for silver bullion coins had lessened. For much of 2011 and 2012, the Mint had managed to keep up with demand for their bullion coins and had resumed the traditional numismatic offerings.
The past month seems to be a return to the times of old. The US Mint has not been able to keep up with higher levels of demand, and once again resorted to sales suspensions and rationing as they try to catch up.