Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Return of Gold and Silver Eagle Rationing

In a return to the situation experienced during most of 2008 and the first half of 2009, the limited number of gold and silver bullion coins available from the US Mint are subject to rationing.

US Mint bullion coins are not sold directly to the public. These coins are distributed through a network of authorized purchasers, who resell the coins to other bullion dealers and the public. During times when demand for the bullion coins has exceeded the amount the US Mint was able to supply, the Mint has rationed coins at the authorized purchaser level through an "allocation program."

On November 25, 2009, the US Mint had announced the suspension of sales for one ounce American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Sales of the Silver Eagles resumed on December 7, 2009, but sales were subject to rationing. Sales of the one ounce Gold Eagles will resume tomorrow December 15, also subject to allocation.

Separately, the US Mint offered fractional weight 2009 Gold Eagle bullion coins on December 3, 2009. On the first day of sales, the entire inventory of one-tenth ounce coins was depleted and the inventory of one-quarter and one-half ounce coins was reduced limited status. The remaining inventory of one-quarter and one-half ounce coins was rationed. Today, the US Mint will sell another batch of fractional Gold Eagles to its authorized purchasers. All available coins will be subject to the rationing process.

The US Mint used the allocation program for the first time during 2008. The one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins had been subject to rationing from April 21, 2008 to June 15, 2009. The one ounce Gold Eagle bullion coins had been rationed from August 15, 2008 to June 15, 2009. Fractional weight gold bullion coins completely unavailable for most of this time. The long standing allocation programs had negative impacts for both precious metals investors and coin collectors.

On the precious metals side, higher premiums above the spot price of the metals developed due to the limited availability of coins. During the height of the 2008 Silver Eagle shortage, premiums for one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins had risen as high as $4.50 above the spot price of silver. Before the era of shortages, normal premiums were around $1.75. Gold Eagle bullion coin premiums were similarly elevated. Higher premiums erode the gains experienced when the price of precious metals rises, since investors need to recoup the extra costs.

For coin collectors, the allocation programs resulted in the lengthy delay and eventual cancellation of many collectible gold and silver coins. For 2008, the US Mint was forced to cancel all collectible 2009 Silver Eagle and Gold Eagle offerings and delay the launch of the collectible Proof Gold Buffalo coin until October 29.

In the press release announcing the canceled coins, the US Mint stated:
All available 22-karat gold and silver bullion blanks are being allocated to the American Eagle Gold and American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Programs, as mandated by Public Law 99-185 and Public Law 99-61, respectively. Both laws direct the agency to produce these coins in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. The proof and uncirculated versions of the American Eagle Gold and Silver Proof Coins are not mandated by law.
These statements were provided before the US Mint was forced to revive their allocation programs. With the programs now in place, the US Mint is now apparently even further away from meeting public demand, calling into question the status of collectible gold and silver coins for 2010 and beyond.
More Information:
2010 Silver Eagles
2010 Gold Eagles



At December 14, 2009 at 8:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may just get a set of 2009 bullion not because of rarity but as a reminder of the "ups and downs" of coin collecting.

At December 14, 2009 at 8:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess the best you can do if you've been collecting the proofs all these years is just stick a bullion version of the 2009's in your collection to take the place of the proofs. That's all you can do if you want to see the 2009 date represented.

At December 14, 2009 at 8:58 AM , Anonymous alvin said...

The best thing the mint could have done was to sell the W uncirculated coins directly to the public. This gave us all a chance to own these coins without substantial markup. If the mint were to sell bullion coins directly to the public, they would probably do just as well--cutting out the middle,man and saving us coin collectors alot of dough. It was bad timing to bring out the Braille silver comm. as close to the end sales of the 09 lincoln comm.-- blaming a shortage of blanks for the non_production of proof 09 eagles. As the price of platinum peaked as the proof 09 came out==the mint should give us a break as todays price of the precious metal should be considered (they havent shipped yet, and are basically sold out!!!!!!!

At December 14, 2009 at 9:18 AM , Blogger Grumpy said...

OK, Tell me why these so-called laws say they must meet "public demand" but the mint doesn't sell the Bullion Coins to the "public"? What the hell is up with that?

At December 14, 2009 at 9:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Michael,

When will we know final numbers on the Braille sets.I think we will find out that it would have been possible to produce a limited number of 2009 proofs if they hadn't over estimated the sale of the braille..Not that it changes anything at all.But perhaps the Mint should take a good look at what people actually wanted more for 2009.I think if you did a question survey one this question."What would you prefer in your collection more in 2009? The 2009 Braille,or the 2009 W silver eagle?". I think we would all know the answer to that question.Seems that the Mint and congress just doesn't have a clue anymore how to go about making the American coins more desirable.I think over the years I have seen an increasing ability for them to cater to the bullion buyers and just say screw the collector base who has carried their butts since the mint turned in to a for profit business.The economic genius of a for profit company would have been fired many times over if it were truly not tied to the government.

At December 14, 2009 at 9:43 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so weird that their are more UNC and Proof 08 Buffalos on Ebay and less UNC and Proof eagles but the buffalo's are selling at a much higher premium. I know that the eagle mintages are almost double so you would think the invertory for the eagles for sale would be more. For example, you rarely see an eagle proof set on Ebay but the buffalo's are there all the time.
I am new into coin collecting and have been basicly putting my dollars in the 08 gold coins(eagles and buffalos) but should I diversify? Any words of wisdom from would be appreciated.

At December 14, 2009 at 10:19 AM , Anonymous alvin says said...

According to Michaels stats there were 437,000 08 unc. silver eagles minted while there were more than 700,000 proof versions. Wouldnt that make the 08 w unc. eagles -a very low mintage--getting no respect at all!~!!!!!(nov 13 09 blog)

At December 14, 2009 at 10:24 AM , Anonymous Bob M said...

Anonymous 12/14 9:23AM, why would you think the Braille commems have anything at all to do with the Silver Eagle shortage? The Brailles are minted on 26.7 gram 90% silver planchets while the Eagles are minted on 31.1 gram .999 silver planchets, the two are not compatible and have nothing to do with each other. The problem is the shortage of .999 planchets which have to come from newly mined domestic sources as mandated by legislation. Those planchets are created by outside vendors(primarily Sunshine Minting, Inc) but those vendors also supply other world mints with .999 silver planchets as well.

At December 14, 2009 at 11:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blank availability may be the issue. I can't imagine, given the number of coins the mint produces, that minting is the issue. The proofs especially must be "specially prepared" and polished prior to striking. This would take an extra time and effort.

At December 14, 2009 at 11:51 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree. I believe the 2008 W silver eagle is a sleeper with the low mintage.Perhaps, as time goes buy. collectors will discover this.

At December 14, 2009 at 12:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To December 14, 2009 9:43 AM Anonymous poster:

Far be it for me to tell you what to collect. It depends on what you like. If you like gold buffalos and eagles, then, by all means, collect them.

Here are some other suggestions:

1. "Classic" United States gold coinage. These are the gold coins put out by the United States mint from the founding of the nation to 1932 (or 1933, if you count the '33Saints withdrawn from circulation). These coins are a little more expensive, but they have more "history," are more "authentic" in the sense that they are real, circulating coins, and not just "collector coins" created by the mint at the behest of some special interest group to entice coin collectors to part with their money, and they have been an excellent hedge against inflation and investment over the years since their creation.

2. If you can afford gold, then you can afford early United State silver and copper coins. For example, I have a 1795 "A over E in States" half dollar which I adore because it is so unique. Of course, the minting process was so imperfect at that time that EVERY coin from the era is unique in some way. These coins, too, are a bit more expensive, but have retained their value over time. Of course, owning coins made at the time of the founding of our country is a truly rewarding experience which cannot be qualtified monetarily.

I would also suggest you become a "collector's club" member of a coin grading service (PCGS or NGC, NOT one of the second or third tier services, which are at best a waste of your time and money) so you can submit your purchases directly to them for authentifcation and grading. I would then submit most everything I buy to them for authentification and grading (but see my comment below about the dealer's role in deciding what to submit). The peace of mind is well worth the cost of membership.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of fraud in the hobby, especially on sites like E-Bay. I can't count the number of times I've bought stuff on E-Bay and then had to return it because PCGS says it is not as advertised because it is overgraded, cleaned, damaged, or "of questionable authenticity." Sellers are much less likely to put up a fight in such cases when their product's deficiency is being pointed out by PCGS or NGC, and not just by you.

Be careful about buying professionally graded coins on E-Bay, as there are conterfeit PCGS holders, containing counterfeit or mis-graded coins, out there.

Finally, you should find a reputable coin dealer, for example a dealer who is a member of the Professional Numismatists' Guild. Membership in the PNG requires a dealer to comply with a code of ethics and provides an arbitration process, which means you have some recourse short of having to hire a lawyer and litigate if you and the dealer get into a disagreement, for example over a coin's grade or authenticity.

A good coin dealer will be able to tell you what to buy, can evaluate what you've bought on E-Bay (for example, tell you in under 10 seconds if a coin has been cleaned, something I still have not mastered), and can offer suggestions on which coins to submit for professional grading and which not.

I have been collecting coins since age 12, in 1969. I really like the hobby, even though I've been subjected to most of the "tricks of the trade," which, if you follow these suggestions, you can, for the most part, hopefully, avoid.

At December 14, 2009 at 1:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if you look on the right column-- Michael points out under =MONSTER BOXES FOR SALE" that there is a guy selling 25,000 silver eagles for 657,000 dollars. A shortage of planchets?Out of the 20 million plus silver bullion eagles made in 09 don't you think that the mint could have held back maybe one million for proof eagles, or continue to let a few govern the availaility for the rest of us $$$$$$$$$$$$$ When a TV show has mint issues graded and for sale before the rest of us--- is that true public demand or catering to the whims of the few??????

At December 14, 2009 at 3:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There won't be any proof gold or silver eagles.

All the complaining won't bring it to us.

Get over it. It is what it is.

At December 14, 2009 at 4:10 PM , Anonymous Dave said...

What exactly does it get you when you become a collector’s club member? Don’t you still have to pay to submit your coins for grading?

At December 14, 2009 at 5:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look up the TPG's websites they have all the rules, some of which are finessed to fleece. I would urge caution with TPGs. My own experience with PCGS left much to be desired. They first messed up my coins (put layers on them), then cleaned the coins with etchants, and finally after my complaining told me that the coins "met their grading standards." And yes, I do have microphotographic evidence of all of this. These coins were returned to me after many of their "treatments" and simply did not have the original mint surfaces. I consider PCGS to be arrogant, callous, and idiotic.

At December 14, 2009 at 8:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Direct Ship $1 are now limited to 2009 Native American. The 2007 Presidential coins are apparently no longer available under this program.

Also, there is a new disclaimer where buyers of Direct Ship dollars must pinkie swear to spend the dollars and not deposit them directly into the bank. This is obviously in response the Wall Street Journal article last week highlighting the use of Direct Ship by mileage junkies to rack up frequent flier miles.

At December 15, 2009 at 8:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, some dude claimed to have bought $800,000 worth of the coins. It just seems like it would have been WAY too much trouble to do that. I bet his bank really loved him for it, too!

At December 15, 2009 at 9:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kinda' did it. The only exception was I searched the rolls for errors before depositing them. As a result, I wasn't able to rack up 1,000,000 miles, since it takes a little time to search through a box of these, but I did rack up enough points for a free stay at my card's motels. It was like a twofer.

Also, I would put a bunch in my pocket and use them at fast fewd joints, garage sales and flea markets. Kinda' fun.

At December 15, 2009 at 9:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, spending the things IS kind of fun, simply because of the looks you get from people. Some seem genuinely pleased to receive the coins, almost like they think they've received something valuable (ah, ignorance is bliss!) Others tend to look at you like they might look at something that just crawled out from under a rock, or something they're getting ready to scrape off the bottom of their shoe.

The only problem is, I don't really use cash much anymore. I just charge everything on my credit cards and pay them off when the bills come. Plastic is so much easier than carrying cash. Even the fast food restaurants pretty much all take credit now, so that wiped out my last cash avenue.


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