May 23, 2024

Fractional Gold Eagles Make Brief Appearance

During December, the United States Mint briefly offered 2009 American Gold Eagle bullion coins in fractional weights. This included one-half ounce coins, one-quarter ounce coins, and one-tenth ounce coins.

This was the first time that the US Mint had offered anything other one ounce gold bullion coins for more than a year. Back in October 2008, the Mint had announced that production of fractional weight coins would be halted following the depletion of the remaining blank supplies. A few months later they announced that the release of 2009-dated fractional weight bullion coins would be delayed citing the “very limited” supply of blanks. This delay continued until the fractional weight 2009 Gold Eagles were eventually offered to authorized purchasers on December 3, 2009.

An immediate rush of orders, depleted the entire inventory of one-tenth ounce coins and reduced the supplies of one-quarter and one-half ounce coins to limited status. After these remaining coins were sold, a second batch went on sale December 14. These sold out by December 21.

At the conclusion of sales, 270,000 one-tenth ounce coins, 110,000 one-quarter ounce coins, and 110,000 one-half ounce coins had been sold. Last year, sales had been 270,000, 58,000, and 50,000 during the ten months of availability.

The fast and heavy sales for the fractional Gold Eagles shows the pent up demand for such offerings. Lower weight gold bullion coins present an entry point for newer investors and an easier way for existing investors to build up a position in gold over time. This especially holds true with gold priced above $1,000 per ounce.

Back in 1999, when Y2K fears brought gold demand mainstream, there was tremendous demand for fractional weight coins. That year the US Mint recorded sales of 2,765,000 of the one-tenth ounce coins, which was nearly double the 1,511,000 one ounce coins sold.

Lower weight gold coins provide a useful entry level for precious metals investors. These options need to be available throughout the entire year, not for just a few days in December.

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