More Details on 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles
This continues the ongoing coverage of the US Mint's cancellation of the collectible 2009 Gold and Silver Eagles and simultaneous announcement regarding the 2009 Platinum Eagle and 2009 Gold Buffalo coins.
This post will provide more details on this year's 2009 Gold and Silver Eagle offerings and canceled products. Once again, I will stick mostly to the facts and details. Tomorrow's post will provide my overall thoughts and reactions to this week's announcement.
2009 American Silver Eagles
The genesis of the current situation traces back a few years. In late 2007, financial instability and uncertainty led many to rediscover precious metals investing. The United States Mint is responsible for producing the US government's only silver bullion coin, the American Silver Eagle.
The Mint was able to handle the additional demand for silver bullion coins until early 2008, when they were forced to temporarily suspend Silver Eagle bullion coin sales. Sales were resumed about a month later on a rationed basis. This did not seem to have immediate impact on the collector versions of the Silver Eagle.
The impact became apparent a few months later. Statements from the US Mint released in June 2008 indicated that they were not using incoming supplies of silver blanks to produce collector coins (proof and uncirculated), but instead directing all inventory to the production of bullion coins. In August 2008, ordering options for the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle disappeared and were replaced by the message "Product is not available." The coins never went back on sale.
The situation continued into 2009, when the US Mint officially announced that production of the collector versions of the Silver Eagle were suspended until "sufficient inventories of silver blanks could be acquired to meet market demand for all three American Silver Eagle Coin products."
Rationing of the bullion Silver Eagles ended in June 2009, providing some hope that a respite in demand for bullion coins would allow the US Mint to build their inventory of blanks to produce collector coins. After several months of apprehension, hopes were dashed with this week's announcement. The 2009 Proof Silver Eagle and 2009-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle were canceled.
The Proof Silver Eagle has been minted and offered to collectors every year since 1986. Sales for the regular proof coin have ranged from a low of 372,168 in 1994 to a high of more than one million coins in 2006, when the coins were sold individually and as part of a special 20th Anniversary Set. Collectors have expressed the most disappointment in the cancellation of the Proof Silver Eagle.
The Uncirculated Silver Eagle has been minted from 2006 to 2008, when the US Mint's line of collectible uncirculated American Eagle coins was introduced. These coins are struck on specially burnished blanks and carry the "W" mint mark. Sales have ranged from a low of approximately 470,000 coins in 2006 (across all ordering options) to a high of 653,878 coins in 2007. The 2008-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle is still available for sale at the US Mint as part of the 2008 Annual Uncricluated Dollar Coin Set.
As it stands, the only 2009 Silver Eagle offered will be the bullion version of the coin. The US Mint has sold 20,824,500 of the one ounce silver bullion coins to date. This amount already exceeds the previous record sales number recorded last year.
2009 American Gold Eagles
While collectors seem to have been most disappointed by the cancellation of the collectible Silver Eagle products, the collectible 2009 Gold Eagles will be missed as well.
The situation for the American Gold Eagle is similar to that described for the Silver Eagle. Gold Eagle bullion coins were first suspended in August 2008 and then resumed two weeks later on a rationed basis. Later that year, the US Mint announced that they would be restricting bullion production to one ounce coins only.
In early 2009, the US Mint officially announced the suspension of collectible proof and uncirculated Gold Eagles until sufficient inventories of gold blanks could be acquired. The rationing of bullion coins was lifted in June 2009.
This week, the US Mint announced that all 2009 Proof Gold Eagles were canceled. This includes 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins, and a 4 Coin Set. The previously planned collectible one ounce 2008-W Uncircualted Gold Eagle was also canceled. Fractional collectible uncirculated coins had previously been announced as discontinued in the prior year.
As part of this week's announcement, the US Mint did indicate that they would finally offer fractional weight Gold Eagle bullion coins. This comes after more than a year of producing only one ounce bullion. The fractional coins will be available starting on December 3. Since these are bullion coins, they will not be sold directly by the US Mint, but distributed through their network of authorized bullion dealers.
The 2009 Gold Eagle one ounce bullion coin, which has been on sale throughout the year, has sold 982,000 coins to date. This is still less than half of the record sales of 2,055,000 ounces of gold bullion sold by the US Mint in 1999.