Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Revisiting 2008-W Silver Eagles Reverse of 2007

One of the top numismatic stories this year was the discovery of the 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

The Reverse of 2007 variety is most easily distinguished by the shape of the "U" of "United States." Coins with the Reverse of 2007 will have a bowl shaped "U." Coins with the regular reverse will have a spur on the right side of the letter. Other differences include the configuration of the stars and spacing between the words "Silver" and "One."

The discovery was made by John Nanney in April about a month after the coins were initially released from the Mint. Prices for the variety quickly escalated in the following months. My last update on the Reverse of 2007 Variety was written near the end of March when prices were near their peaks. At the time, some were predicting that prices would crash once the initial buzz wore off.

Although prices have experienced some decline, they have held up surprisingly well. The number available for sale has contracted and demand seems to have remained steady enough to support continued high premiums. Currently there are less than 100 of the variety type available for sale on eBay. (This compares to 200-300 available during the initial months.)

Based on completed auctions for the prior week, prices have settled into the following ranges. I did not split out First Strike or Early Releases designations, which may account for some of the wide ranges.
  • Raw: $430 - $490 (with a few outliers)
  • PCGS MS70: $1,700 - $2,000 (these were the only two sales)
  • PCGS MS69: $500 - $525
  • NGC MS 70: $600 - $800
  • NGC MS 69: $430 - $500
One interesting aspect to consider, to date sales of the 2008-W Silver Eagle have totaled 411,785 (387,483 individually and 24,302 in the Annual Dollar Coin Set). If the estimated mintage of 47,000 for the Reverse of 2007 Variety is correct, then the variety type accounts for 11.4% of the total current mintage.

So even though greater than 1 out of 10 coins carry the variety, the premium is greater than 15 times the price of the non variety. (These percentage and ratios will change as long as the 2008-W Silver Eagles remain on sale.)

At this point, I think the non-variety 2008-W Silver Eagles have a better chance for appreciation. There have been several clues that the Mint may soon sell out of the coin. This includes statements indicating that they will focus on production of bullion coins instead of collector coins, and the curious absence of Silver Eagle coins in the 2008 Gift Catalog.

While the Reverse of 2007 Variety may continue to hold its value and eventually start to creep upwards again, it probably won't be appreciating by the leaps and bounds experienced in the few months following discovery.

Previous coverage of the Reverse of 2007 Variety:

May 29, 2008 - Update on 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007
April 30, 2008 - PCGS & NGC Designation of Reverse of 2007 Variety
April 29, 2008 - 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Mintage Estimate
April 21, 2008 - 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Discovery


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hawaii State Quarter Release November 3

The 2008 Hawaii State Quarter will be released into circulation on Monday, November 3, 2008. This will mark the final coin of the 50 State Quarters Program.

The reverse design of the Hawaii Quarter features a statue of King Kamehameha I. He was responsible for unifying the governance of the Hawaiian Islands in the early 1800's. The ruler is depicted with his right hand outstretched towards the eight main Hawaiian Islands. An inscription is included which translates to "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness." Hawaii was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959.

The US Mint will offer Hawaii Quarters through the Bags and Rolls Program. Two-Roll Sets of Hawaii Quarters from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints will be available priced at $32.95. 100-Coin and 1,000 Coin Bags will be available priced at $32.95 and $309.95 respectively. These will both go on sale November 3, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

Since the 50 State Quarter Program began in 1999, the US Mint has produced more than 33 billion State Quarters. The State with the highest production was the 2001 Virginia Quarter with almost 1.6 billion produced. According to the US Mint approximately 147 million Americans collect State Quarters. The US government has made an estimated $4.6 billion from collectors taking the coins out of circulation. (This figure is from a Congressional Budget Office Report released in 2005 so the current amount may be even greater.)

Next year a separate program will begin known as The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program. This will honor other jurisdictions which are not states. This includes Washington DC, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.


Monday, October 27, 2008

2008 State Quarter Products Released

A few final products from the US Mint's recently released 2008 Gift Catalog feature this year's State Quarters.

The first product is the 2008 Hawaii First Day Coin Cover. Hawaii Quarters from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints are on a custom display card. One of the four 42 cent Flags 24/7 stamps are included. The postmark will be November 3, 2008, the first day Hawaii Quarters are released to the public. The covers are limited to 35,000 and priced at $14.95.

The second product is the 2008 50 State Quarters Greetings from America Card Set. These are baseball card sized cards that each include one quarter and one stamp. The stamps are from the Greetings from America stamp series. The cards are for the five quarters released in 2008: Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii. The set is priced at $27.99.

The last product is the 2008 50 State Quarters Greetings from America Portfolio. This is similar to the card set, but the coins and stamps are inlcuded in a portfolio with scenic photographs from each state. There are also Certificates of Authenticity signed by the United States Mint Director and Postmaster General. The portfolios are priced at $29.99.

The cards and portfolios from all prior years back to 1999 are actually still available for sale on the US Mint's website. You can find them here.

Sales for all of the above products began today October 27, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET. Although orders are being accepted, shipping for all of these products is delayed since the unreleased Hawaii Quarter is included. The US Mint's website states that the products will be available for shipping on December 15, 2008.

As mentioned these products were included in the 2008 Gift Catalog, which included several other products which were released today. You can check my prior posts for the other products:
2008 US Mint Gift Catalog
2008 Presidential Dollar Products
2008 American Legacy Collection


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sales Figures of 2008-W Platinum Eagles Since Re-Release

Following the return of the 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Platinum Eagles last Friday, we have the first indications of how sales figures are playing out. The 1/10 ounce uncirculated coin sold out on Tuesday so these sales figures also present some clues as to what the final overall mintages might look like.

The sales figures come from Numismaster Mint Stats published on October 23, 2008. The first column displays the total number sold before the long suspension began. The second column shows the most recent sales figure. The final column is the difference.

2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagle Sales Figures

Pre-Suspension Oct 23 Change
1 ounce 146 213 67
1/2 ounce 126 292 166
1/4 ounce 198 615 417
1/10 ounce 712 2,046 1,334
4 coin set 453 668 215

2008 Proof Platinum Eagle Sales Figures

Pre-Suspension Oct 23 Change
1 ounce 1,222 1,334 112
1/2 ounce 482 578 96
1/4 ounce 628 783 155
1/10 ounce 1,255 1,520 265
4 coin set 759 970 211

The biggest sales increase was for the 1/10 oz. Unc coin. This might be due to collectors who have not collected the series in the past, giving it a try after prices became more affordable. It could also be collectors speculating that this denomination will experience the biggest price jump (on a percentage basis) if 2008 turns out to be a low mintage year. It should be noted that the 1/10 oz. Unc coins are still available as part of the 4 coin set. The continued sales of the 4 coin set will impact the final mintage of the individual coins.

Also on the Unc side, sales of the 1/2 ounce and 1/4 ounce coins doubled and tripled from pre-suspension figures. This oddly leaves the 1 ounce coin with the lowest total sales number of 881 (213 individual plus 668 from the 4 coin set).

On the Proof side, sales figures had the largest increases for the 1/10 ounce coin and 4 coin set. The sales increases were less significant than those of the Unc versions. This may be the result of the Proof coins being on sale for a longer time period before the suspension . It may also be the result of collectors focusing on the Unc versions as the potential lower mintage coins.

Surprisingly, the 1/10 oz. Proof coins now have a lower combined mintage than the 1/10 oz. Unc coins. This is the only Proof coin with a lower mintage than its corresponding Unc version.

On the whole, the drama around the 2008 Platinum Eagles has made the series interesting again. For the past few years, the high price of platinum has kept this series out of reach of many collectors. Now, people are seeing the dual opportunity of a potential low mintage coin and potential rebound in the price of platinum as strong motivators. This is definitely a series to consider and watch closely into the end of the year.

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2008 Presidential Dollar Products Release

As included in the US Mint's recently released 2008 Gift Catalog, a number of new Presidential Dollar related products will soon be released.

The first group of products are the Presidential Dollar Coin Historical Signature Sets for each Presidential Dollar released during 2008. These sets include a proof version of the Presidential Dollar coin, a special intaglio print, and the official Presidential signature. These are contained in a textured folder with a certificate of authenticity.

The US Mint first offered these Signature Sets for the 2007 Presidential Dollars during early 2008. Each President was released separately every few months. The upcoming Signature Sets for the 2008 Presidential Dollars will all be released at once. They are priced at $19.95 per set and will go on sale October 27, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The Mint's product pages can be found here:
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
The Mint will also be releasing several products related to the release of the Martin Van Buren Presidential Dollar, the final release of the series for 2008. Products include the 2008 Martin Van Buren Coin Cover priced at $14.95, the Martin Van Buren Individual Proof coin priced at $5.95, and the Presidential Dollar Coin & First Spouse Medal Set priced at $7.95. All will go on sale October 27, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The individual product pages can be found at the following locations:
Coin Cover
Individual Proof
Preisdential $1 Coin & Medal Set


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 US Mint American Legacy Collection

As mentioned in my last post, I'll be spending some time reviewing the batch of new products which will be released by the US Mint as part of their 2008 Gift Catalog. One of the more notable products is the 2008 United States Mint American Legacy Collection which will go on sale October 27, 2008 at 12:00 Noon ET.

The US Mint calls this set "the most complete offering of United States Mint 2008-dated proof coins." This will be the fourth year the Mint has offered a collection as such. The product page can be found here.

This set includes all 14 coins contained in the 2008 Clad Proof Set- the 4 Presidential Dollars, Sacagawea Dollar, Kennedy Half, 5 State Quarters, Roosevelt Dime, Jefferson Nickel, and Lincoln Cent. In addition, the set includes a proof version of the 2008 Bald Eagle Commemorative Silver Dollar.

The sets are priced at $100.00 each. The Mint has limited overall production of the collection to 50,000. There is an order limit of 10 units per hosuehold.

As in prior years, the coins in this set can actually be obtained more cheaply by purchasing the individual components. The 2008 Proof Set is priced at $26.95 and the 2008 Bald Eagle Silver Dollar is priced at $43.95 for a total cost of $70.90.

If you are purchasing this set, you should realize that you are paying an extra $29.10 for the packaging. You could actually purchase a second 2008 Proof Set for this amount and still have money left over for coffee.

On the other hand, the secondary market has often demonstrated the uncanny ability to support premium prices for certain packaging. The most notable case of this is for the 2007 Presidential Dollar & Spouse Medal Sets.


2008 US Mint Gift Catalog Released

The United States Mint recently released their 2008 Gift Catalog. The catalog has traditionally be released prior to the Christmas season to highlight US Mint products suited for the gift giving season. I haven't seen a copy of the print catalog yet, but it supposedly includes a sneak preview of the much touted 2009 Ultra High Relief Gold Double Eagle.

The press release issued by the Mint specifically highlights gold and platinum related products stating "Give the Gift of Platinum and Gold from the United States Mint." Conspicuously absent from the catalog are American Silver Eagle products. The 2008 Proof Silver Eagles have been unavailable from the Mint since mid-August. The 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagles are still available from the Mint. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Mint may simply be selling off remaining inventory and not producing additional coins. The fact that these traditionally popular holiday gifts are absent from the catalog lends some support to this theory.

For anyone ordering gifts for Christmas, the US Mint states that ordered received before December 8, 2008 are guaranteed for Delivery for Christmas. If express delivery is used, they guarantee orders placed before December 15, 2008.

In the next few posts, I will be reviewing the batch of new products which will go on sale at the Mint on October 27, 2008.

Update: Here are the separate pages where the new products released October 27, 2008 are discussed.
2008 State Quarter Products
2008 Presidential Dollar Products
2008 American Legacy Collection


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008-W One-Tenth Ounce Platinum Eagles Sold Out

On Friday, to the mixed delight and dismay of many collectors, the US Mint put the 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Platinum Eagles back on sale at reduced prices.

Today, the first of the re-offered coins has Sold Out. The sold out coin is the 2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagle 1/10 ounce size. It was priced at $134.95 (down from the prior price of $259.95). Even the reduced price represented a steep premium above the market price of platinum which is currently $893 per ounce.

The product page for the coin displays the message "Product Not Available." The coin has also been added to the US Mint's listing of products which are No Longer Available. To my knowledge, only Sold Out products have been listed on this page. This is perhaps some necessary confirmation after a year of mysterious extended suspensions and unexplained disappearing product pages.

Coin collectors apparently saw opportunity in the reduced price for this potential low mintage coin. This may be an early indication of the pent up speculative demand for the coins as well as the Mint's limited supply. I think we will see some other issues sell out in the coming days or weeks.

Later this week, we should also have some updated Mint sales figures from Numismaster which will give some indication of where the final mintages for the 2006-W Platinum Eagles may eventually land.


Friday, October 17, 2008

2008-W Platinum Eagles Back on Sale

After nearly two and a half months of suspension and speculation on both sides of question, 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Platinum Eagles are back on sale at the US Mint.

The coins had been suspended since August 7, when the price of platinum was $1,559 per ounce. The pricing for the products had been set earlier in the year when platinum was closer to its highs above the $2,000 level. Since the coins were suspended, the price of platinum has continued to decline to today's spot price of $863.

The US Mint has lowered pricing significantly from the last available prices:

2008-W Proof Platinum Eagles

Price Aug 7 New Price
1 ounce 2,509.95 1,324.95
1/2 ounce 1,279.95 674.95
1/4 ounce 664.95 349.95
1/10 ounce 279.95 149.95
4 coin set 4,589.95 2,419.95

2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagles

Price Aug 7 New Price
1 ounce 2,349.95 1,214.95
1/2 ounce 1,199.95 619.95
1/4 ounce 619.95 319.95
1/10 ounce 259.95 134.95
4 coin set 4,289.95 2,219.95

You can find the coins for sale on the US Mint's website here and here.

As recently as this week, I examined some of the secondary market prices for the 2008-W Platinum Eagles. Coins were selling for huge premiums above the Mint's original offering prices. The return of the coins for sale at lower prices will definitely have an immediate and drastic impact.

Perhaps the silver lining : The Mint announced that they will be halting production of 2008 dated platinum bullion coins once the current blank supplies are exhausted. Based on this, it is possible that they have also stopped producing 2008 dated platinum collector coins. If this is the case, the current offering might be remaining inventory for the last production run. Once these are gone and the coins are "officially" sold out, the market can determine the proper price based on the projected final mintage and availability of the coins. And if nothing else, the absence of the coins has certainly generated some new buzz around the series.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

US Mint Schedule for the Rest of 2008

As we draw closer to the end of the year, what US Mint products are still yet to be released for 2008? Here's a look at some highlights of products still in the pipeline along with release dates and likely pricing. Since release dates and pricing have not been officially announced, these may change in the future.

2008 American Legacy Collection - This product is not listed in the US Mint's online product schedule, but according to recent publication in the Federal Register, it is scheduled to be released on October 27, 2008 priced at $100.00. This is the fourth year the US Mint has offered this collection. Based on past collections, this year's should contain all 14 coins included in the (clad) 2008 Proof Set plus the 2008 Proof Bald Eagle Commemorative Silver Dollar. Last year the US Mint had a limit of 50,000 sets and only had the collection available for sale until December 14th due to the sales restrictions of commemorative coins.

2008 Hawaii State Quarter Bags & Rolls - These are scheduled to be released on November 3, 2008. Pricing will likely follow prior State Quarter Bags and Rolls offerings at $32.95 per two roll set, $32.95 for 100-coin bags, and $309.95 for 1,000-coin bags. Quite notably, this will be the final release of the 50 State Quarters Program.

Martin Van Buren Presidential Dollar Bags & Rolls - Release is scheduled for November 13, 2008. Pricing will likely follow prior Presidential Dollar Bags and Rolls offerings at $35.95 per roll and $319.95 per 250-coin bag. The US Mint will also hopefully offer $250 boxes under the Direct Ship program. These would be available for face value with no extra charge for shipping.

Martin Van Buren's Liberty First Spouse Gold - Release is scheduled for November 26, 2008. Pricing may be impacted by the market price of gold, but the last three releases were priced at $599.95 for Uncirculated coins and $619.95 for Proof coins. This will be the fourth release of 2008 for the First Spouse Gold series and the eighth release overall. Similar to the prior release featuring Andrew Jackson's Liberty, the obverse design will be taken from a circulating coin of the President's era. The design will be based on the Liberty Seated Dime which was produced from 1837 to 1891.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Prices Soaring for 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Platinum Eagles

I've written previously on this year's 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Platinum Eagles. The coins were only on sale for a brief period of time, and all ordering options have been suspended since August 7. In the past few weeks, prices realized have soared for the small number of coins that have been on the market.

For clarification, these are not the platinum bullion coins, but the collectible versions of the coins offered directly from the US Mint. The uncirculated version carries a "W" mint mark which distinguishes it from the regular bullion issues.

Because of the limited amount of time the coins were on sale and the declining price of platinum, sales figures were shockingly low. The lowest sales number was 579 for the 1/2 oz. Unc Platinum Eagle. See full 2008-W Unc & Proof Platinum Eagles sales figures.

Below are prices realized from the last 30 days of eBay auctions. Current eBay auctions can be found here. Current auctions show only a small number of listings with very high Buy It Now prices.
  • 2008-W 1/10 oz. Unc Platinum Eagles have sold for $565 and $629 for coins graded PCGS MS70. (US Mint price $279.95)
  • 2008-W 1/4 oz. Unc Platinum Eagles have sold for $860 raw, $1,000 for NGC MS 70, $2,199 for PCGS MS70 (US Mint price $664.95)
  • 2008-W 1/2 oz. Unc Platinum Eagles have sold for $2,182 raw, $2,899 and $3,061 for PCGS MS70. (US Mint price $1,279.95)
  • 2008-W 1/10 oz. Proof Platinum Eagles have sold for $550 for NGC PF 70 UC, $1,025 for PCGS PR70DCAM. (US Mint price $279.95)
  • 2008-W 1/4 oz. Proof Platinum Eagle has sold for $1,266 raw. (US Mint price $664.95)
  • 2008-W 1 oz. Proof Platinum Eagle has sold for $3,600 for NGC PF 70 UC. (US Mint price $2,509.95)
Some of these prices are for top graded PCGS & NGC coins, but even the raw prices are well above the last prices set by the US Mint. Also keep in mind that the Mint prices were set when platinum was around $1,900 per ounce, nearly double the current price of $987.

The risk of paying such high prices is that the US Mint could still potentially put the coins back up for sale at lower prices, destroying the secondary market that has developed. I'm still hearing mixed reports of whether the coins will come back. If they do come back, I think that the Mint will be selling off their remaining inventory of the coins and not producing additional coins. The rationale for this can be found in the prior post discussing the Gold & Platinum Eagle production halts.

When the dust settles, I think the uncertainty and volatility of 2008 will have created a new class of low mintage, modern key date coins. This is definitely a developing story worth watching.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Examining "Unprecedented Demand" for Gold Eagles

Earlier this week, the United States Mint took further actions to meet the increased demand for gold and silver bullion coins. This included production halts for certain bullion offerings and the continued allocation for one ounce Gold and Silver American Eagle coins.

Within the memorandum sent to authorized bullion purchasers, the US Mint specifically stated, "gold and silver demand is unprecedented." Throughout the course of this year, the Mint has provided similar explanations each time a new suspension or allocation program went into effect. While sales of Silver Eagle coins are higher than any other year in history, the sales of Gold Eagle coins are far below their peak.

The following table shows the ounces of gold sold by the United States Mint in the form of American Eagle Gold bullion coins. These figures are taken from the US Mint website. You can visit the link for monthly data, as well as the figures for Silver and Platinum Eagles.

American Gold Eagle Bullion Sales (ounces)
1986 1,787,750
1987 1,253,000
1988 851,000
1989 839,000
1990 715,000
1991 472,000
1992 638,600
1993 796,000
1994 559,500
1995 600,500
1996 729,500
1997 1,317,000
1998 1,839,500
1999 2,055,500
2000 164,500
2001 325,000
2002 315,000
2003 484,500
2004 536,000
2005 449,000
2006 261,000
2007 198,500
2008 492,000*
*through October 2008

While the number of ounces of gold sold has already more than doubled from last year, it still does not approach the levels reached during the several prior years, most notably 1998 and 1999.

In terms of monthly demand, during 2008 the highest number of ounces sold was in September at 113,000 ounces. During 1998 and 1999, there were seven months with sales in excess of 200,000 ounces. The highest monthly sales total occurred in October 1998 at 288,500 ounces.

The demand for American Gold Eagles is clearly not unprecedented. What's actually unprecedented is the suspension and allocation of Gold Eagle coins. Even amidst the booming demand of the pre-Y2K years, the US Mint never resorted to suspensions or allocation programs. Why is the US Mint having so much trouble keeping pace with demand this year?

The mainstream press has recently given coverage to the US Mint's suspensions and allocations of gold and silver bullion coins. The stories have always reported about the US Mint's inability to produce enough coins to meet demand. Given that the Mint has been able to produce far greater quantities of gold bullion coins in the past, I think the real story is the Mint's inability to obtain the physical gold needed for the coins.

But that just raises another question: With unfulfilled physical demand, why has the market price of gold remained stagnant? I think we will see this situation play out with some interesting consequences during the remainder of the year.

Get the latest Coin Collecting news.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

2009 Presidential Dollar Designs Released

Today the United States Mint unveiled the designs for the upcoming 2009 Presidential Dollars. Next year's coins will honor the Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor.

Next year the motto "In God We Trust" will be moved to more prominent placement on the obverse of the coin. Placement of the motto on the edge lettering of the coin had caused some initial public confusion, including an email-chain campaign to boycott the dollars. The date, mint mark, and "E Pluribus Unum" will still be featured on the incuse edge lettering of the coins.

The reverse design featuring the Statue of Liberty that has been used in prior years will remain unchanged and continue to be used.

The following are the designs released by the US Mint. You can click on any image for a larger size version.

William Henry Harrison Dollar
9th President
Designed and Sculpted by Joseph Menna

John Tyler Dollar
10th President
Designed and Sculpted by Phebe Hemphill

James K. Polk Dollar
11th President
Designed by Susan Gamble and Sculpted by Charles Vickers

Zachary Taylor Dollar
12th President
Designed and Sculpted by Don Everhart

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

US Mint Stops Gold & Platinum Eagle Production for Some Options

Unprecedented demand for gold, silver, and platinum bullion coins continues to drive the US Mint to take unprecedented actions. Yesterday the US Mint released a memorandum to their network of authorized dealers detailing their latest strategy, which includes halting production for many options.

Production of one-half ounce and one-quarter ounce 2008 American Gold Eagles will be halted for the remainder of the year. Production of one-tenth ounce 2008 Gold Eagles will be produced until current blank supplies are depleted, and then will also be halted.

2008 one ounce American Gold Buffalo coins will be produced until current blank supplies are depleted, and then halted.

All denominations of 2008 American Platinum Eagles will be produced until current blank supplies are depleted, and then halted.

The US Mint will primarily focus on producing one ounce Silver Eagle and Gold Eagle bullion coins. These will be produced based on the amount of gold and silver blanks available each week and distributed to authorized dealers on an allocated basis.

The entire memo is reproduced below:
October 6, 2008


SUBJECT: 2008-Dated Bullion Products

Due to the extreme fluctuating market conditions for 2008, as well as current market conditions, gold and silver demand is unprecedented and the demand for platinum is unusually high.

The United States Mint has worked diligently to attempt to meet demand, however, blank supplies are very limited and it is necessary for the United States Mint to focus remaining bullion production primarily on American Eagle Gold One Ounce and Silver One Ounce Coins.

For the remainder of 2008 bullion inventory, the following will apply:

American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins

One Ounce Coins will remain on allocation each week. Allocation amounts are based on available quality blanks each week.

One Half Ounce Coins: Inventory was depleted last week. No more coins will be produced for 2008.

One Quarter Ounce Coins: Inventory was depleted last week. No more coins will be produced for 2008.

One Tenth Ounce Coins: Inventory was depleted last week. More coins will be produced based on current blank supplies, however, once that remaining inventory is depleted, no more coins will be produced for 2008. You will be notified when these are available for sale.

American Buffalo One Ounce Bullion Coins

Inventory was depleted and sales were suspended in late September. More coins will be produced based on current blank supplies, however, once that remaining inventory is depleted, no more coins will be produced for 2008. You will be notified when these are available for sale.

American Eagle Silver Once Ounce Bullion Coins

American Eagle Silver One Ounce Coins will remain on allocation each week. Allocation amounts are based on available quality blanks each week.

American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coins

All denominations were depleted last week. More coins will be produced based on current blank supplies, however, once that remaining inventory is depleted, no more coins will be produced for 2008. You will be notified when these are available for sale.

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.

The memo does not specifically address production of collector versions of bullion coins, specifically the 2008-W Uncirculated and 2008-W Proof versions of the American Gold, Silver, and Platinum Eagles and American Gold Buffaloes. However, I think this memo and prior statements present a strong indication of the Mint's plans for these coins.

A prior memo stated that the supply of silver blanks available would be diverted from collector coins to the production of bullion coins. The current memo directs the remaining inventory of blanks for several options to the production of bullion coins until depleted. The only blanks that the US Mint will obtain are for one ounce gold and silver coins.

Taken together this suggests that blanks necessary for producing most offerings simply won't be available to produce further collector coins. And the only blanks that the Mint apparently can obtain for one ounce silver and gold coins will continue to be diverted to produce bullion coins as they are still under allocation due to heavy demand.

This lends to the conclusion that the Mint will not be producing any more of the 2008 dated collector's version bullion coins. That would mean once the current inventory is sold, the coins will no longer be available.

Recently, I made a couple of recommendations for coins which might end up with significantly low mintages this year. I had intended to track these coins into the end of the year, but based on recent news, sales are likely to end sooner than most people expect. Be sure to take another look at my prior posts which highlighted the 1/2 ounce 2008-W Gold Eagle , 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle, and (if they ever go back on sale) the 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Platinum Eagles.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Silver Eagles

It's been a while since I have taken a look at the 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Silver Eagles. The sales figures are only one aspect of a tumultuous year for the popular coin series. In this post I will recap some of the events of this year and explain why one of the coins might emerge an unexpected winner.

To start, here are the most recent sales figures from Numismaster's October 1 Mint Stats. Note I have included the figure for the 2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set since it contains the 2008-W Unc Silver Eagle.

Silver Eagle Sales Figures
2008-W Proof 712,378
2008-W Uncirculated 372,749
2008 Annual Unc Dollar Set 21,578

2008-W Proof Silver Eagles

In mid-August, the US Mint stopped selling the 2008-W Proof Silver Eagles. As of the writing of this post, the coins are still listed as "Product is Not Available" on the US Mint's website. As explained in a previous post, the coins are not sold out, but temporarily suspended.

The Mint has diverted the entire supply of incoming silver blanks to produce bullion coins in an attempt to deal with the ongoing 2008 Silver Eagle shortage. They have publicly announced their intention to resume production and sales of the 2008-W Proof Silver Eagles once sufficient silver supplies can be obtained. Nonetheless prices for the coins have escalated on the secondary market. A review of some recently completed eBay auctions shows coins selling in the $50 - $55 range.

Even if sales of 2008-W Proof Silver Eagles do not resume, I don't think the mintage is low enough to justify a big premium. A total of 712,378 coins have already been sold. This compares to an estimated final mintage of 827,106 for the 2007 Proof Silver Eagle. On a historical basis, Proof Silver Eagles from the 1990's routinely had mintages in the 400,000's. There is also the risk that coins go back on sale at the original price.

2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagles

Early in the year, the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagles caused a stir when the Reverse of 2007 Variety was identified. Prices quickly escalated even while the variety was still being shipped in new US Mint orders. This may have contributed to a rush of early sales as collectors hoped to receive the valuable variety. Around the same time, the price of silver was trading around $18 after briefly surpassing the $20 level.

Following the initial rush, sales momentum subsided and later stalled as the price of silver declined to its current level around $11 per ounce. The US Mint is currently selling the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle for $25.95, which represents a significant premium over the precious metal value. This is likely the main deterrent for current sales.

Notably, sales to date for the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle have only reached 372,749 (or 394,327 including coins from the 2007 Annual Unc Dollar Set). The estimated final mintage for last year's 2007-W Unc Silver Eagle was 563,711 (653,878 including coins from the 2007 Annual Unc Dollar Coin Set). The 2006-W Unc Silver Eagles had a total combined mintage of 470,000.

I think that the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle might emerge an unexpected winner.

First, sales figures are tracking very low and have the potential to fall beneath the lowest mintage year 2006. When the 2006-W Silver Eagle unexpectedly sold out, prices quickly shot up. Another aspect to consider is that of the current mintage, approximately 47,000 are the Reverse of 2007 variety. This represents a reduction in supply of the non-variety type.

Second, I'm not sure if too many people realize it, but in the US Mint's strategy of diverting the supply of silver blanks also impacts the 2008-W Uncircualted Silver Eagles. From the US Mint's statement, "We are not using incoming supplies of silver blanks to produce numismatic versions of these coins (American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated Coins); all incoming inventory is being used solely for silver bullion coins..." Potentially, the production of 2008-W Unc Silver Eagles was stopped in June. If this is the case, once the Mint's current supply runs out, the 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle coins will join the proof coins under the status "Product Is Not Available."

Taken together, this presents a historically low mintage and a potential short term catalyst.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Gold Buffalo Sales Figures

The 2008-W Uncirculated and Proof Gold Buffalo coins have been relatively brisk sellers at the US Mint.

Although the American Gold Buffalo has been offered since 2006 as a 24 karat one ounce gold bullion coin, the US Mint only started offering fractional denominations this year. On July 22, the US Mint started selling 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce, 1/2 ounce, and 1 ounce coins, as well as a four coin set. Coins are offered in proof and uncirculated versions. There are no production limits on the coins and they will be minted to demand.

Here are the sales figures as of the October 1 Mint Stats from Numismaster. The product column refers to sales of each ordering option. The combined column refers to the total sales for each coin by adding individual sales to the set sales.

2008 Proof American Gold Buffalo Sales

Product Combined
1 ounce 9,488 15,473
1/2 ounce 1,255 7,240
1/4 ounce 2,972 8,957
1/10 ounce 8,707 14,692
4 coin set 5,985 N/A

2008-W Uncirculated American Gold Buffalo Sales

Product Combined
1 ounce 1,576 5,902
1/2 ounce 1,948 6,274
1/4 ounce 2,840 7,166
1/10 ounce 10,489 14,815
4 coin set 4,326 N/A

I mentioned previously that coin collectors may be purchasing the fractional Gold Buffalo coins in lieu of the fractional Gold Eagles. A quick comparison of the sales data shows the Buffaloes outselling the Eagles for all sizes of the Uncirculated version. Sales for the proof versions lag by a small amount. For a better comparison, see my post with full 2008-W Uncirculated & Proof Gold Eagles sales figures.

The coin with the lowest combined sales total is the 1 ounce 2008-W Uncirculated Gold Buffalo. This is different than the typical pattern. Usually the highest sales are recorded for the 1 ounce and 1/10 ounce coins, with the lowest sales for the 1/2 ounce size.

It's a testament to the popularity of the classic Buffalo design that these coins can put up strong sales numbers despite a later release date than the Gold Eagles and the relatively high premiums on the coins.

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