October 2, 2022

Silver Eagle Bullion Coin Premiums Up Again

The US Mint has ratcheted up premiums for their popular American Silver Eagle bullion coins once again. Premiums charged to Authorized Purchasers were increased from $1.50 to $2.00 per coin. The increase was made effective today.

Authorized purchasers are the only ones allowed to purchase bullion coins directly from the US Mint. The increased premium level, will no doubt filter down through the distribution channels and result in higher prices paid for silver bullion at a time when spot prices continue to soar.

During the past two years, premiums have been raised on two other occasions. These were relatively modest adjustments compared to the current 50 cent per coin increase. On October 14, 2008, premiums were increased from $1.25 per coin to $1.40 per coin. Then on January 27, 2009, premiums were increased from $1.40 to $1.50 per coin.

The increase in premiums for silver bullion coins comes just a few days after the US Mint announced the depletion of their 24 karat gold bullion offering. The latest available information suggests that the coins will not be offered for the remainder of the year, with the start of sales for 2011-dated coins still undetermined.

Gold and Silver Eagle Rationing Ends… For Now

The United States Mint’s “on again, off again” rationing of American Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins is “off again”.

For more than two years, increased levels of demand for gold and silver bullion coins have caused problems for the United States Mint. Under current law, they are required to produce Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. When they have been unable to meet full demand, they have defaulted to meeting as much demand as possible.

In February 2008, following a multi-week suspension of Silver Eagles, the US Mint imposed their “allocation program” for the first time, which rationed the supply of bullion coins amongst authorized purchasers. At the time their memo stated, “The unprecedented demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins necessitates our allocating these coins on a weekly basis until we are able to meet demand.”

Despite making some progress with the overall number of gold and silver bullion coins available, the US Mint has resorted to this allocation time and time again, in response to increased bullion demand. When demand subsides, the program is lifted, only to be reinstated weeks or months later when demand reemerges.

Last year rationing was ended for both gold and silver bullion coins in June 2009 with little fanfare. In the ensuing months, the US Mint presumably produced the bullion coins in quantities necessary to meet full demand. However, as had happened before, fresh waves of demand upset the delicate balance.

In late November 2009, sales of both Gold and Silver Eagles were briefly suspended and resumed under the familiar allocation program. Rationing eventually ended for Gold Eagle bullion coins in March 2010, and for Silver Eagle bullion coins early this month.

Will the latest “end of rationing” finally stick? Or will events once again transpire to reignite bullion demand and bring back the rationing program yet again?

Proof Silver Eagles Possible… With Change in Law

There might be a chance for proof versions of the American Silver Eagle after all.

Shortly after my post on the dimming prospects of the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle, US Mint Director Edmund Moy delivered testimony to the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology on “The State of U.S. Coins and Currency”. Within the testimony, Director Moy mentioned that the subcommittee was considering amending the existing law to allow the Mint to produce collectible uncirculated and proof versions of the Silver Eagle, even if full demand for bullion coins was not being met.

It was revealed that the US Mint has already, in fact, provided drafting assistance for the amendment to the law. If it could be enacted soon, the Mint could begin production of Proof Silver Eagles in September at a rate of 200,000 coins per month. This would allow total production of 830,000 coins before the end of the year.

Frankly, after two years of stalled production, a change in law is not really the solution I was expecting. Two years should have provided the US Mint with sufficient time to either find additional precious metals blank suppliers, or set up their own production of precious metals blanks in-house. During the course of the subcommittee meeting, the US Mint Director was questioned on these two options and did not provide satisfactory responses. If the US Mint sought to change the law to legitimize the fact that they cannot satisfy bullion demand, then they could have taken this step two years ago.

As it stands, the US Mint claims that there is plenty of gold, silver, and platinum in raw material form, they just can not get it fabricated into planchets fast enough. This is another tough statement to accept without scrutiny. As covered in prior posts, other world mints quickly managed to adapt to the increased level of demand for precious metals. The US Mint has apparently been staring down the same bottleneck for two years.

During the course of the questioning, Director Moy was asked about the possibility of producing back dated 2009 Proof Silver Eagles, to fill the gap left by last year’s cancellation. He stated that this was not allowed.

2010 Proof Silver Eagles at Risk of Cancellation

One of the consequences of the record pace of United States Mint silver bullion coins might be the cancellation of the popular Proof American Silver Eagle for the second year running.

The Proof Silver Eagles have been issued each year from 1986 to 2008. During this period, the coins have sold between 372,168 and 1,092,477 coins per year and had firmly established itself as one of the United States Mint’s most popular products.

2009 Proof Silver Eagle (not issued)

The offering was abruptly canceled for 2009 to the dismay of many collectors. The US Mint explained that it was legally required to produce the bullion version of the American Silver Eagle in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. They were not under any legal requirement to produce the collectible proof or uncirculated versions of the coins. Because demand for silver bullion coins apparently outweighed production, the US Mint sourced all incoming blank supplies towards the production of bullion coins.

The announcement of last year’s cancellation came by way of a press release issued October 6, 2009, which highlighted the two collectible precious metals offerings that would be available in 2009, before enumerating the long list of products which were canceled. As if in validation of the high demand for US Mint bullion Silver Eagles, in late November the US Mint was forced to temporarily suspended sales of bullion coins after inventories were depleted.

During 2010 to date, Silver Eagle bullion coin sales are running at a higher pace than the prior year. An average of 3,028,083 ounces have been sold per month this year, compared to an average of 2,397,208 ounces per month last year. Demand shows no signs of abating, as investors continue to buy every silver bullion coin the US Mint can produce.

The US Mint recently unveiled a numismatic product release schedule for the remainder of 2010. The 2010 Proof Silver Eagle and most other precious metal products were conspicuously listed as “TBD.” The Mint is still preserving some hope that these coins may be issued, but the situation looks rather bleak.

Why can’t the United States Mint produce bullion coins in sufficient numbers along with the traditionally issued collectible precious metals products? Is it the result of the onerous requirement that precious metals must be sourced from newly mined domestic sources? Is there a lack of manufacturing capacity? Or is it a case of managerial incompetence?

The same excuse of blaming “unprecedented demand from investors” is getting a bit old after two years.

2010 Gold Eagle and Silver Eagle Coin Sales

Sales of the United States Mint’s 2010 Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins are off to a fast start. Sales levels for the one ounce silver coins have already eclipsed the levels achieved in the year ago period. The one ounce gold coin sales were also strong.

After going on sale January 19, the 2010 Silver Eagles recorded sales of 2.44 million coins on the first day of availability. Earlier in the month, the US Mint had sold 367,500 coins, representing the remnants of the inventory of 2009-dated coins.

The month to date total for Silver Eagle bullion coin sales has now reached 3,592,500. By comparison, in January 2009, the US Mint had sold 1,900,000 coins. The high monthly sales total is made even more impressive by the fact that the one ounce silver bullion coins were completely unavailable for six days during the month between the sell out of 2009 coins and the start of sales for 2010 coins.

The 2010 Gold Eagles, which also went on sale January 19, recorded sales of 30,500 on the first day of availability. The US Mint additionally sold 18,500 of the 2009-dated coins on the same day, since authorized purchasers were required to take a certain amount of the old dated coins for each 2010-dated coins ordered.

For the month to date, gold eagle sales have reached 85,000 of the one ounce coins. This compares to 92,000 sold in the year ago period.

US Mint Accepts Orders for 2010 Gold and Silver Eagles

Today the US Mint began accepting orders from authorized purchasers for the 2010 Gold and Silver Eagle bullion coins. The initial ordering date this year comes a bit later than usual and carries some special stipulations.

Only a select group of authorized purchasers are able to buy the bullion coins directly from the United States Mint. These APs then resell the coins to other dealers and the public, as well as facilitate a two-way market for the coins.

Usually Gold and Silver Eagles bearing the following year’s date are produced in November and December of the preceding year. This allows the US Mint to build an inventory of newly dated coins, accept orders from authorized purchasers in mid December, and deliver the coins in early January. This year, production of 2009 dated coins continued to year-end, pushing back the availability of the new coins.

The 2010 Gold Eagles will have a special ordering requirement. As of January 13, 2010, the US Mint had a remaining inventory of 51,000 of the one ounce 2009 Gold Eagles. As long as this inventory remains, authorized purchasers will be required to order Gold Eagles on a “3-to-1 basis.” This means that for every three 2010 Gold Eagles ordered, they must also order one 2009 Gold Eagle. Only one ounce coins will be available.

Both 2010 Gold and Silver Eagles will continue to be subject to the US Mint’s allocation program. This program rations the maximum number of coins that authorized purchasers can buy.


2010 Silver Eagles Arrive Late

Usually, the United States Mint will begin production of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins bearing the following year’s date in late November or early December. This allows the US Mint to begin accepting orders in December for delivery of the coins in early January. This system has allowed bullion and coin dealers to get a jump on the demand for newly dated coins.

This year, the 2010 dated American Silver Eagles will be arriving a bit later. The US Mint recently announced that they would begin taking orders from authorized purchasers on January 19, 2010.

This is the latest in a number of changes to normal procedures for United States Mint precious metals coin offerings that began in 2008. Back then the first of many sales suspensions was put into place first for Silver Eagles and later for Gold Eagles and Gold Buffalo coins. The suspensions were generally followed by availability of coins under a rationing program.

Eventually, the collector versions of the Gold and Silver Eagles were impacted when the US Mint began sourcing precious metals blanks exclusively to the production of bullion coins. The 2008 Proof Silver Eagle sold out very early in the year, never to return. The 2009 collectible Gold and Silver Eagle offerings were canceled.

The delay of 2010 Silver Eagle coins seems to indicate that the US Mint may be falling even further behind the curve on fulfilling public demand. As it stands, the silver bullion coins are fresh off of a recent suspension and reimplemented rationing program.


2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagles Canceled

Continuing coverage of the fallout from yesterday’s US Mint announcement, the 2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle has been canceled. The 2009 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set, which would have contained this coin has similarly been canceled.

These represent coins which are typically produced for collectors as opposed to the bullion coins produced primarily for precious metals investors. The uncirculated collector versions of the coin have been produced since 2006, when similar offerings were also introduced for Gold Eagles and Platinum Eagles. The coins can most easily be differentiated from the bullion coins by the “W” mint mark on the reverse of the coins. Bullion coins do not have a mint mark. The collector coins are sometimes referred to as “Burnished Silver Eagles” since they are struck on specially burnished blanks.

The collector coins are also sold directly by the United States Mint in special packaging at fixed prices which represented a generally higher premium above the value of the silver content. By contrast, the bullion coins are sold through the US Mint’s network of authorized bullion dealers. These dealers can purchase the coins for the spot value of silver plus a small mark up, and then resell the coins to other precious metals dealers or the public.

While not as popular as the Proof Silver Eagles, the Uncirculated Silver Eagles did sell a fair amount of coins and had begun to acquire a collector base. According to Silver Eagle Guide, the US Mint sold approximately 470,000 of the coins in 2006, followed by 653,878 in 2007, and 517,967 in 2008. The 2008 Uncirculated Silver Eagles still remain available for sale at the US Mint as part of the 2007 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set.

The US Mint had actually offered the coins through their subscription program, which automatically ships and charges customers for the coins when they are released. The US Mint sent the following message to subscribers to inform them that they would not receive the coins for 2009:

Dear United States Mint Customer,

Production of the United States Mint American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins was suspended this year because of unprecedented demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins. All available silver bullion blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Program, as the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-61 to produce these coins “in quantities sufficient to meet public demand …”

The United States Mint will resume the American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs once sufficient inventories of silver bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Eagle Silver Coin products. However, due to the continued, sustained demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins, 2009-dated American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins will not be produced.

You do not need to re-subscribe to the 2010 American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs. Prices may change during the course of your subscription. Should the price change for the 2010 coins, the new prices will be listed on your 30-day pre-fulfillment notification.

Please review your notification carefully.

Based on the US Mint’s statements, they will attempt to revive the offering with the 2010 Silver Eagle, but collectors will be left with an unfortunate gap in their collections.

2009 Proof Silver Eagle Canceled

Yesterday, some very significant news broke which put to rest long standing speculation about the status of some of the United States Mint’s bullion and collector coin product offerings. Essentially, the United States Mint canceled all collectible 2009 Gold and Silver Eagle Coins, but announced the limited production of collectible proof 2009 Platinum Eagles and Gold Buffalo Coins, as well as bullion fractional Gold Eagles and one ounce Gold Buffalo coins. I will be breaking this announcement down into several posts over the next few days.

The United States Mint has offered Proof Silver Eagles since their bullion counterparts were first released in 1986. This coin has become a modern favorite for collectors and has been one of the US Mint’s core numismatic product offerings.

Last year, the US Mint was forced to end sales of the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle coin around August 2008. The coins are typically available through the end of the year and have been a highlight of the US Mint’s holiday gift offerings. The unannounced and unexplained unavailability of the coins was later revealed to be related to the “unprecedented demand” for silver bullion products.

Under law the United States Mint is required to produce American Silver Eagle bullion coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. During 2008, higher demand taxed the resources of the US Mint and they had been forced to briefly suspend sales and subsequently impose a rationing program which limited coin sales at the dealer level.

As long as the US Mint was unable to meet full public demand for bullion coins, they believed it was their requirement by law to source all incoming silver blanks to the production of bullion coins and suspend production of collector coins.

The situation continued into the following year, but seemed to be abating when the US Mint finally lifted bullion coin rationing programs in June. Since this time, the US Mint has apparently been unable to build up enough inventory of silver blanks to produce collector coins.

The announcement marks a tremendous disappointment for collectors who have been assembling the Proof Silver Eagle series since 1986. There will now be a gap in the collection of at least one year. The US Mint states that they will attempt to obtain a greater supply of silver bullion blanks so production of collector coins can resume with the 2010 Silver Eagles.

US Mint Suspends Production of More Gold and Silver Coins

The United States Mint has officially announced the suspension of another slate of gold and silver products. The affected products are 2009 dated American Gold and Silver Eagle coins produced for collectors. These coins are considered collectible versions of the bullion coins.

Although these are collectible coins, they represent a sizable amount of precious metals sales and represent a method of gold and silver investment for many individuals. Last year, the US Mint sold 1,157,911 ounces of silver in the form of Silver Eagle coins minted for collectors. They also sold 155,740 ounces of gold in the form of Gold Eagle and Gold Buffalo coins minted for collectors.

The following message was posted on the US Mint’s website in the space where the collectible Gold Eagle coins typically appear. The proof coins has been offered uninterrupted since 1986. The uncirculated version has been offered since 2006.

Production of United States Mint American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coins has been temporarily suspended because of unprecedented demand for American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins. Currently, all available 22-karat gold blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin Program, as the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-185 to produce these coins “in quantities sufficient to meet public demand . . . .”

The United States Mint will resume the American Eagle Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs once sufficient inventories of gold bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Eagle Gold Coin products. Additionally, as a result of the recent numismatic product portfolio analysis, fractional sizes of American Eagle Gold Uncirculated Coins will no longer be produced.

A similar message is posted in the section where collectible American Silver Eagle coins would typically appear. The proof coins have also been offered uninterrupted since 1986 and the uncirculated coins since 2006.

Production of United States Mint American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins has been temporarily suspended because of unprecedented demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins. Currently, all available silver bullion blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Program, as the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-61 to produce these coins “in quantities sufficient to meet public demand . . . .”

The United States Mint will resume the American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coin Programs once sufficient inventories of silver bullion blanks can be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Eagle Silver Coin products.

This adds to the lengthy list of 2009 dated precious metals products that have been “temporarily delayed” or suspended by the US Mint. In my previous post Actions of the US Mint Discourage Gold Ownership, I mentioned the delayed release of 2009 Gold Eagle fractional coins, 2009 Gold Buffalo coins, and all 2009 Platinum Eagle coins. The delay, which was first announced in November 2008, continues with no further explanation provided.

For those keeping track, here is a list of the US Mint’s 2009 precious metals products that have been “temporarily delayed” or suspended:

  • 2009 American Gold Eagle 1/2 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Gold Eagle 1/4 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Gold Eagle 1/10 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Platinum Eagle 1 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Platinum Eagle 1/2 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Platinum Eagle 1/4 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Platinum Eagle 1/10 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009 American Gold Buffalo 1 oz. (bullion)
  • 2009-W Proof American Gold Eagle 1 oz. (collector)
  • 2009-W Proof American Gold Eagle 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • 2009-W Proof American Gold Eagle 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • 2009-W Proof American Gold Eagle 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • 2009-W Proof American Gold Eagle 4 Coin Set (collector)
  • 2009-W Uncirculated American Gold Eagle 1 oz. (collector)
  • 2009-W Proof American Silver Eagle (collector)
  • 2009-W Uncirculated American Silver Eagle (collector)

In addition, the following precious metals related products were discontinued by the US Mint for 2009. These discontinuations were announced in November 2008. Amidst the environment of unprecedented demand for precious metals, the US Mint determined that these products were “unpopular.”

  • Uncirculated American Gold Eagle 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Eagle 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Eagle 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • Unriculated American Gold Eagle 4 Coin Set (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Buffalo 1 oz. (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Buffalo 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Buffalo 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • Uncirculated American Gold Buffalo 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • Unriculated American Gold Buffalo 4 Coin Set (collector)
  • Proof American Gold Buffalo 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Gold Buffalo 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Gold Buffalo 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Gold Buffalo 4 Coin Set (collector)
  • Uncircualted American Platinum Eagle 1 oz. (collector)
  • Uncircualted American Platinum Eagle 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • Uncircualted American Platinum Eagle 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • Uncircualted American Platinum Eagle 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • Uncircualted American Platinum Eagle 4 Coin Set (collector)
  • Proof American Platinum Eagle 1/2 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Platinum Eagle 1/4 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Platinum Eagle 1/10 oz. (collector)
  • Proof American Platinum Eagle 4 Coin Set (collector)

That makes a total of 38 precious metals products which have been delayed, suspended, or discontinued by the US Mint.

As it currently stands, investors or collectors looking to purchase newly minted American Eagle or American Buffalo precious metals products have only two options available. These are the 2009 1 oz. American Gold Eagle and the 2009 1 oz. American Silver Eagle. Both of these products continue to be subject to rationing.