Mint News Blog

News, Information, and Commentary on US Mint Products

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quick US Mint Updates

There are a number of recent news items related to the US Mint that I wanted to briefly cover. These deal with two upcoming coin launch ceremonies, the 2011 Mint Set, and designs for the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar

The US Mint announced details for the coin launch ceremony for the 2010 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar. The ceremony is scheduled to take place on November 18, 2010 at 10:00 AM ET. The location will be President Lincoln's Cottage on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC.

This ceremony may see more interest than typical due to the excitement about the release of the new Lincoln Dollar.

The ceremony will take place on the same day as the official circulation release date. As opposed to America the Beautiful Quarters, unmixed quantities of newly released Presidential Dollars have been more readily available at banks. Depository institutions are provided with time frames during which they can order boxes of $1,000 or bags of $2,000 of the most recently released Presidential Dollar.

The special ordering period for the Lincoln Presidential Dollar is October 28 to December 2. Collectors may want to inquire with some banks now to see if they will be ordering the coins, or even to request that they order a specific quantity of the coins.

Mount Hood National Forest Quarter

The launch ceremony for the Mount Hood National Forest Quarter will be held on November 17, 2010 at 10:30 AM PT. The location will be the World Forestry Center, 4033 SW Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon.

The ceremony will take place two days after the official circulation release date on November 15.

This will represent the fifth release of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program and the final release for this year. Coins from this series have been more challenging to find through the channels of circulation, although some collectors have experienced success.

The US Mint will offer premium priced two roll sets and 100-coin bags of the quarters starting on November 15, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET.

2011 United States Mint Set

CoinWorld has recently reported that the US Mint will stop using the satin finish for the annual Uncirculated Coin Set, also referred to by collectors as the Mint Set.

The satin finish has been used for the 2005 to 2010 Mint Sets, creating two distinct versions for Philadelphia and Denver Mint coins for these years. Each year, standard circulation strike coins were produced for circulation channels and numismatic bags and rolls, while satin finish coins were produced for the annual uncirculated coin set and some other collector products.

Reasons cited for the change were customer feedback and efforts to extend die life.

2012 America the Beautiful Quarters

The CFA and CCAC recently reviewed design candidates for the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters.

The five coins released that year will feature El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Acadia National Park in Maine, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, and Denali National Park in Alaska.

Les Peters covered the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee meeting for Coin Update News. Check out the article on the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters for images of the design candidates and the comments and recommendations provided by the CCAC.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2009 DC & US Territories Silver Proof Set Sold Out

Yesterday, the 2009 District of Columbia & U.S. Territories Quarters Silver Proof Set sold out at the United States Mint. This product originally went on sale March 23, 2009, meaning it has been available for more than 19 months.

The six coin set had been the focus of some recent attention due to its rising intrinsic value. Each 90% silver quarter within the set contains 0.18084 ounces of silver, yielding a total silver content of 1.08504 ounces per set. When silver was trading at its recent high of $24.49 per ounce, the silver value of the coins included in each set had reached $26.57. This was approaching the US Mint issue price of $29.95.

The 2009 silver quarter sets were also priced $3 below the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set. In addition to the lower price, the 2009 set also contained six coins compared to five for the current year set, adding to the bargain factor.

Despite the long period of availability, the last reported sales for the 2009 DC & US Territories Silver Proof Set come in at 298,562. This actually represents the lowest sales for one of the US Mint's separate 90% silver quarters sets.

Since the introduction of the separate 90% silver quarter sets in 2004, sales have ranged from a high of 672,662 (2007) to a low of 429,021 (2008).

The six 90% silver DC & US Territories Quarters were also available within the full 2009 Silver Proof Set. Sales had reached 694,406 when product offering concluded on June 15, 2010.
Coin Update News: Latest US Mint Sales Report

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Friday, October 22, 2010

United States Mint Circulating Coin Bulk Purchase Program

Back in June, the United States Mint announced the America the Beautiful Quarters Bulk Purchase Program. Recently, the Mint has added bulk purchase options for Presidential Dollars and Native American Dollars.

The America the Beautiful Quarters have been available in bulk bags of 200,000 coins ($50,000 face value). These bulk bags come on steel pallets measuring 41.5 inches long, 27.5 inches wide, and 19.5 inches high, with a weight of 2,615 pounds for the coins and pallet. The cost of the bulk bag is the face value of $50,000 plus a 3% handling charge of $1,500. Additionally, the purchaser must arrange for pick up at either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint by a properly licensed carrier.

Orders for bulk bags of new releases can be placed up to one week before the circulation release date. Orders may also be placed for previously released quarters to be fulfilled with available inventory. The US Mint may also restart production of previous designs from the current year, if time and resources permit. The latest coin production figures showed that the US Mint did restart production of the Hot Springs Quarter, with 5 million more coins struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints.

Presidential Dollars and Native American Dollars are available through the Bulk Purchase Program in bags of 140,000 coins ($140,000 face value). The cost is face value plus a 1% handling charge of $1,400. The pallets and bags have the same measurement and weight as for the quarters.

For Presidential Dollars, only prior year coins are available for ordering. Specific designs are not mentioned. For Native American Dollars, current year dated coins are available from the first business day of the year.

A Q&A document from the US Mint states the purpose of the program (specifically for the quarters) as follows: "Recent economic conditions have led to an oversupply of prior year-dated quarters in the banking system. As a result, businesses relying solely on the banking system may be unable to obtain large quantities of America the Beautiful Quarters coins on a regular basis. This program provides an option to those interested in obtaining America the Beautiful Quarters in volume."

More information on the bulk purchase program can be found on the US Mint's website here.

The dollar value for the bulk bags puts them out of reach for nearly all collectors and individuals. To me, it seems that the ones most able to utilize the program would be mass marketers reselling America the Beautiful Quarters to the public, large coin dealers, and possibly businesses seeking the coins for promotional purposes.

Collectors are left with only a few options for buying relatively small numbers of America the Beautiful Quarters at much higher premiums. Current products with circulation strike quarters include 100-coin bags ($25 face value) priced at $35.95, two roll sets ($20 face value) priced at $32.95, and the circulating coin set ($2.50 face value) priced at $9.95. These products represent premiums to face value of 43.80%, 64.75%, and 298.00%. This does not take into account shipping and handling charges.

If the US Mint is going to accommodate mass marketers with a special program, shouldn't they offer better options for collectors and average individuals?
Coin Update News: Previewing America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Proof Gold Eagle Sales Figures and Pricing

The latest US Mint sales report is now available. This report includes updated sales figures for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles. After the strong opening numbers last week, some slow down was expected. Separately, based on the US Mint's numismatic gold product pricing policy, a pricing increase will likely not take place this week.

Before discussing the pricing, here are this week's sales figures. The first number column represents the number of units sold during the week ended October 17, 2010. The second column represents the total sales through the reporting date. The final column shows the percentage of the maximum product limit which has been sold.
2010 Proof Gold Eagle Sales

Week Total Percent
1 ounce 5,215 19,195 76.78%
1/2 ounce 706 2,879 19.19%
1/4 ounce 669 3,449 21.56%
1/10 ounce 1,593 8,538 31.62%
4 coin set 2,840 9,987 25.61%

The most popular option continued to be the one ounce individual coin, which sold 5,215 in the last week. With the total now at 19,195, a sell out for this option seems possible within two or three weeks time. Of course, the one ounce coin would still remain available within the 4 Coin Set, which is not at risk of selling out any time soon.

The most significant slow down in sales occurred for the one-tenth ounce individual coin, which sold 1,593 units this week compared to 6,945 in the debut period. Priced at $180.50 each, these coins carry the highest premium above the value of the gold content.

On the subject of pricing, after an increase was narrowly missed last week, it had seemed highly probable that prices would be increasing this week. However, following gold's decline today, the possibility of a price increase is now seems unlikely.

Under current policy, the US Mint bases prices for numismatic gold products primarily on the average London Fix price from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM. If the average price moves into a different $50 price tier, then a price change would generally take place. The price change can be overruled if the Wednesday PM price does not agree with the change directionally. This additional aspect of the policy was first noted in this Coin Update News article.

For the current period, the average gold price is solidly within a higher range ($1350 - $1399.99), but the price of gold has fallen back into the current range ($1300 - $1349.99). Therefore, as long as the Wednesday PM fix price comes in below $1350, a price change will not take place. PM Fix prices are set at 3:00 PM London time, or 11:00 AM NY time.

In the past, the supplemental aspect of the policy has been used to avoid a price decrease. I believe this will be the first time the policy will be used to avert a price increase.
Coin Update News: Full US Mint Sales Report


Friday, October 15, 2010

US Mint Product Schedule Through Year-End

The year is winding down and only ten US Mint numismatic products remain scheduled for release through the end of the year. With no products scheduled to be released during the next month, the final month and a half of the year will be packed with new products. Among them are eagerly awaited items like the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollars, and Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coins.

Here's how the schedule looks for the rest of the year:

11/15/2010 - Mount Hood Quarter Bags and Rolls
11/17/2010 - Hot Springs Quarter Three Coin Set
11/18/2010 - Abraham Lincoln Dollar Rolls
11/19/2010 - 2010 Proof Silver Eagle
11/19/2010 - 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Coin Set
11/23/2010 - 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Uncirculated Coin Set
12/02/2010 - Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coins and Bronze Medal
12/02/2010 - 2010 First Spouse Bronze Medal 4 Medal Set
12/23/2010 - Abraham Lincoln $1 Coin and Mary Todd Lincoln Medal Set
12/30/2010 - Abraham Lincoln $1 Coin Cover

The releases for the numismatic products containing Mount Hood National Park Quarters and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollars will coincide with the circulation release dates for each coin, on November 15 and 18. For the quarters, the US Mint would offer two roll sets or 100-coin bags from the Philadelphia or Denver Mints. The Lincoln Dollars would be available in 25-coin rolls from either Mint.

On November 19, possibly the most anticipated product of the year will be released, the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle. The US Mint has recently posted images of the coin, which appear above, and the product page, which can be found here. There hasn't been any new significant information available since my last post, which included the pricing of $45.95 per coin and household ordering limit of 100. The product page does state that the ordering limit will be in effect for the first week of release, after which it will be re-evaluated and extended, adjusted, or removed. I expect nothing less than a frenzied opening for this long awaited product.

On November 17, 19, and 21, the US Mint will release three new product types for America the Beautiful Quarters. Images of the packaging haven't been provided yet. Each of these products contain quarters released through other products, remixed into different arrangements. Perhaps the most useful of the products is the circulating coin set, which will include circulation strike P and D-mint coins for each of this year's releases. Within existing US Mint products, these are only available through more costly bags and rolls, and the coins have been challenging to find through the channels of circulation.

The Mary Todd Lincoln First Spouse Gold Coin will be released on December 2, 2010. The overall series has recently gotten more attention, following the release of the James Buchanan's Liberty Gold Coin. As of the last available sales report, this coin has sold nearly 10,000 out of the 15,000 maximum mintage. The US Mint is apparently expecting even greater demand for the Mary Todd Lincoln coin, as they have set the maximum mintage at 20,000.

Rounding out the numismatic offerings will be the 2010 First Spouse Bronze Medal Four Medal Set on December 2, the Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Set featuring Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln on December 23, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential $1 Coin Cover on December 31. The latter two products should see some increased interest, as is generally the case for numismatic products featuring Lincoln.

Beyond numismatic products, the America the Beautiful 5 ounce Silver Bullion Coins will also be released before the end of the year. The United States Mint has reportedly begun striking the coins, although a release date and the premium level charged to authorized purchasers has still not been revealed. The US Mint plans production of 100,000 of each of the designs, which might prove a small number in comparison to demand.

The bullion coins are being struck in 5 ounces of .999 fine silver and have a diameter of 3 inches and thickness of approximately 0.16 inches. This compares to a diameter of 1.598 inches and thickness of 0.117 inches for the one ounce American Silver Eagle.

For shipment to authorized purchasers, the America the Beautiful silver bullion coins will come in plastic tubes containing 10 coins, with ten tubes packaged into a sealed plastic shipping container. This makes for 50 ounces of silver content per roll and 500 ounces per box. For comparison, Silver Eagles are packaged in rolls of 20 coins, with 25 rolls contained in a so-called Silver Eagle Monster Box, also yielding a bullion weight of 500 ounces per box.
Coin Update News: 5-Star Generals Commemorative Coins Approved


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Proof Gold Eagle Opening Sales Figures

Opening sales figures are available for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles. The coins went on sale last week October 7, 2010 with four individual sizes and a four coin set available. As widely expected, the opening numbers were strong reflecting pent up demand for collectible Gold Eagle offerings.

2010 Proof Gold Eagles

Product Sales
1 ounce 13,980
1/2 ounce 2,173
1/4 ounce 2,780
1/10 ounce 6,945
4 Coin Set 7,147

The heaviest seller was the one ounce proof coin, which out of all the production options represents the lowest premium compared to gold value. This was followed by the 4 Coin Set, which provides a better value than purchasing the four individual options and a logical choice for anyone who wants one example of each coin.

I managed to dig up the debut sales figures for the 2008 Proof Gold Eagle for comparison purposes. The numbers reflecting six days of sales were 3,120 (one ounce), 598 (one half ounce), 518 (one quarter ounce), 1,347 (one tenth ounce), and 1,691 (4 Coin Sets). This year's debut figures reflecting only three days of sales are between three and five times greater.

Another interesting point of comparison are the final audited sales numbers for the 2008 Proof Eagle. These numbers are 17,720 (one ounce), 10,085 (one half ounce), 6,360 (one quarter ounce), 15,599 (one tenth ounce), and 12,517 (4 Coin Sets). Sales of the individual one ounce proof coin are already approaching the final sales from 2008, while the other numbers are still far below.

The complete weekly US Mint sales report with some further observations about the opening sales levels can be found on Coin Update News.

For price watchers, there most likely will not be an increase for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles this week. Due to the lower fix prices late last week, the weekly average is likely to remain within the $1,300 to $1,349.99 range.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

US Mint Coin Production September 2010

Circulating coin production at the United States Mint for the year to date has topped 5 billion, following the release of the September 2010 figures. Also of note, the US Mint struck additional Hot Springs National Park Quarters last month.

Total production during September across the Philadelphia and Denver Mint facilities was 690.02 million. This marks the third consecutive drop in monthly output since peaking in June when more than 900 million coins were struck.

The table below shows the breakdown of circulating coin production by denomination and mint. The first column shows the number of coins produced during September 2010, while the second column presents the total for the year to date.

2010 US Mint Coin Production Figures

September 2010 YTD 2010
Lincoln Cent - Denver 256.80 M 1,562.80 M
Lincoln Cent - Phil. 170.80 M 1,622.43 M
Jefferson Nickel - Denver 49.68 M 147.36 M
Jefferson Nickel - Phil. 35.04 M 182.88 M
Roosevelt Dime - Denver 86.50 M 409.50 M
Roosevelt Dime - Phil. 44.00 M 446.00 M
Quarters - Denver 5.80 M 139.00 M
Quarters - Phil. 5.00 M 139.20 M
Kennedy Half - Denver 0 1.70 M
Kennedy Half - Phil. 0 1.80 M
Native Am Dollar - Denver 0 42.98 M
Native Am Dollar - Phil. 0 32.06 M
Pres Dollar - Denver 26.18 M 151.06 M
Pres Dollar - Phil. 10.22 M 152.46 M

Total 690.02 M 5,031.23 M

Once again, the Lincoln Cent accounted for the heaviest portion of production at a combined 427.6 million. More than 3 billion cents have now been struck for the year to date. Personally, I have only seen two of the 2010 Lincoln Cents in circulation.

The US Mint has continued to strike nickels and dimes in quantity. Although the year to date totals are still below typical levels, they have now far exceeded the relatively tiny mintages experienced during 2009.

A scant 10.8 million quarters were struck last month. Based on updates to the preliminary production figures for America the Beautiful Quarters, this amount seems to be made up of an additional 10 million Hot Springs National Park Quarters and 0.8 million Grand Canyon National Park Quarters.

The table below shows the preliminary production figures by design for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters and 2010 Presidential Dollars.

2010 US Mint Coin Production by Design

Denver Phil. Total
Hot Springs Quarter 34.00 M 35.60 M 69.60 M
Yellowstone Quarter 34.80 M 33.60 M 68.40 M
Yosemite Quarter 34.80 M 35.20 M 70.00 M
Grand Canyon Quarter 35.40 M 34.80 M 70.20 M

Fillmore Dollar 36.96 M 37.52 M 74.48 M
Pierce Dollar 38.36 M 38.22 M 76.58 M
Buchanan Dollar 36.54 M 36.82 M 73.36 M

There are no new entries to the table this month, but the totals for the Hot Springs Quarter have increased by 5 million each from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints, and the total for Grand Canyon Quarters struck at the Denver Mint has increased by 0.8 million.

As mentioned in previous posts, the US Mint has indicated that they may restart production of previously released America the Beautiful Quarters if demand exists through their bulk purchase program. Under this program, the coins can be ordered in bags of 200,000 for the $50,000 face value plus a 3% handing fee.

The Hot Springs Quarter was once the lowest mintage issue of the series, but now that title rests with the Yellowstone Quarter- at least for now.

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America the Beautiful Products Coming in November

Back in May, the United States Mint announced three new product types for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. Yesterday, they announced that the release dates for the products have been set for mid-November.

As I said in my original post, these products basically remix the various versions of the quarters available elsewhere into new arrangements and packaging. Although it would have been preferable to come up with some more innovative ideas, these new products might provide useful options for some collectors.

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Three Coin Set - Hot Springs
Release: November 17, 2010
Price: $13.95

This product will contain uncirculated (satin finish) Hot Springs Quarters from the Philadelphia and Denver Mint, along with the proof version from the San Francisco Mint. The coins will be mounted on a "durable plastic card" containing a description of the site, coin design, and certificate of authenticity. This sounds like it would look similar to the Presidential $1 Coin and First Spouse Medal Sets.

Only the Hot Springs Quarter Three Coin Set would be released on November 17, with the other 2010 coins to follow in 2011.

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Circulating Coin Set
Release: November 19, 2010
Price: $9.95

The set includes all ten circulation strike 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The packaging allows the coins to be removed for easier placement into albums. This product does seem like a nice idea for someone who wants to assemble a basic circulating coin collection of the new series, particularly since the coins don't seem to turn up in circulation very often.

2010 America the Beautiful Quarters Uncirculated Coin Set
Release: November 23, 2010
Price: $21.95

This set would include all ten of the uncirculated (satin finish) 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters from the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. This is similar to the separate uncirculated coin sets available for the Presidential Dollars Program.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010 American Gold Eagle Proof Coins

Today, October 7, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles. This will mark the exciting return of the collector gold coins following a one year gap.

Elevated demand for gold bullion coins had resulted in the cancellation of the coins for 2009. By law, the US Mint is required to produce American Gold and Silver Eagles in quantities sufficient to meet public demand. Following their interpretation of the law, in times when bullion demand exceeded available planchet supplies, the Mint sourced all incoming planchets to the production of bullion coins. This resulted in the suspension and ultimate cancellation of some collector coins, which were not required by law.

Demand for the US Mint's Gold Eagle bullion coins eased a bit this year, allowing the US Mint to release fractional and 24 karat gold bullion coins earlier and end allocation programs. In early September, it was revealed that Proof Gold Eagles were being struck and would be available in October.

The 2010 Proof Gold Eagles are available in one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce sizes. Each coin is sold individually or as part of a 4 Coin Set, containing one of each coin. Product limits have been set for individual and set sales, resulting in mintage limits for each coin. Although the mintage limits might seem high, they are only slightly above the levels that were established for the 2008 Proof Gold Eagles.

Pricing for the coins is determined based on the average price of gold via the US Mint's gold and platinum numismatic product pricing grid. The average gold price is calculated weekly and if it crosses tiers established at $50 increments, a pricing adjustment takes place. Initial pricing for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles is based on the $1,300 to $1,349.99 tier.

The product limits, mintage limits and initial pricing for the coins is shown below. There are no household ordering limits in place.
2010 American Gold Eagle Proof Coins

Product Limit Mintage Limit Initial Price
1 oz. 25,000 64,000 $ 1,585.00
1/2 oz. 15,000 54,000 $ 806.00
1/4 oz. 16,000 55,000 $ 415.50
1/10 oz. 27,000 66,000 $ 180.50
4 Coin Set 39,000 N/A $ 2,938.00

It is a relief to see the US Mint's product offerings return to some semblance of normality. Although the 2010-W Uncirculated Gold and Silver Eagle coins were canceled, the release of the Proof Gold Eagles today and the 2010 Proof Silver Eagles in November will bring back some long running US Mint favorites and provide a greater variety of precious metals products.

While there is likely a great deal of pent up demand for the 2010 Proof Gold Eagles, with sizable mintage limits and no household ordering restriction, there should be more than enough to go around. Barring something unforeseen occurring, this year's offerings will most likely not turn out to be big secondary market successes like some of the 2008-dated numismatic gold products.

Someone asked if I would be purchasing the coins on the first day of release. Since mintage limits are high and continued availability seems relatively secure, I don't see a rush. In the past, I have purchased numismatic gold products the day before a pending price increase. On several occasions prices have dropped before they have risen, allowing my purchases to take place at a better price.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Numismatic Gold Coin Prices to Increase

It's that time again already. The rising price of gold will result in price increases for the United States Mint's numismatic gold products. Unfortunately, this will also push the prices of the upcoming 2010 Proof Gold Eagles up one increment.

The US Mint is able to adjust gold and platinum numismatic product prices as frequently as weekly in response to changes in the price of the metals. Adjustments are determined based on the weekly average London Fix prices from the prior Thursday AM to the current Wednesday AM, as well a directional component based on the Wednesday PM price. Product price changes take place when the average price of gold passes established $50 increments and the Wednesday PM price agrees directionally.

For the current week, the price range falls into the $1,300 to $1,349.99 range, and it seems all but certain that the directional component will confirm. Price updates have generally taken place around mid to late morning on Wednesday.

The price of the 2010 Proof Gold Buffalo would be adjusted from $1,560 to $1,610 per coin. The prices of available First Spouse Gold Coins would be adjusted from $804 to $829 for proofs and from $791 to $816 for uncirculated coins.

The 2010 Proof Gold Eagles, scheduled for release on October 7, 2010 at 12:00 Noon ET, would carry the following prices:
1/10 oz $ 180.50
1/4 oz $ 415.50
1/2 oz $ 806.00
1 oz $ 1,585.00
4 Coin Set $ 2,938.00


2010 Proof Silver Eagles

The United States Mint has confirmed that 2010 Proof American Silver Eagle will be available. According to a press release posted yesterday, orders will be accepting starting on November 19, with fulfillment beginning December 1.

The coins will be priced at $45.95 each and carry a household order limit of 100. When the Proof Silver Eagle was last available in 2008, the coins had been priced at $31.95 and did not carry a limit.

The price increase for this year's offering is in excess of the rise in the price of silver. When the 2008 Proof Silver Eagle went on sale January 3, 2008, silver was $15.38 per ounce. Today, silver is just about $7.00 higher at $22.34 per ounce.

At the very end of the US Mint's press release, they also announced that the 2010-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle and 2010-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle were canceled. Additionally, the 2010 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set, which would have contained the Uncirculated Silver Eagle was canceled.

The collectible uncirculated or "burnished" versions of the coins have not been available since 2008.

The Mint has not indicated what the maximum production of 2010 Proof Silver Eagles might be. According to statements provided by the US Mint to Dave Harper of Numismatic News, "It's all dependent upon the current situation of being off allocation for a while longer."

His statement refers to the fact that the US Mint ended their allocation program, which rationed the available supply of Silver Eagle bullion coins to their authorized purchasers. This is an indication that the US Mint is currently meeting full public demand for bullion coins.

While pent up demand for the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle is bound to be huge, I would speculate that the US Mint does have an adequate supply of silver planchets available to satisfy this demand. Here are some factors leading to this conclusion:

- Demand for Silver Eagle bullion coins has declined from the peaks reached earlier in the year and is far below average for the most recent month. The highest monthly sales occurred in May 2010 when 3,636,500 coins sold. The average number of Silver Eagle bullion coins sold each month from January to August was 2,950,062. During September, the US Mint sold only 1,880,000 Silver Eagle bullion coins. Assuming the US Mint has been able to maintain the same silver planchet supply as earlier in the year, in September alone, there should be around one million excess planchets available for proof coins.

- Last year, the US Mint had released statements effectively stating that they could have produced a small number of 2009 Proof Silver Eagles, but since they could not produce enough to satisfy the anticipated full collector demand, the offering was canceled. Assuming the Mint is still following the same logic, by offering the 2010 Proof Silver Eagle, they must be relatively confident that they can meet full collector demand.

- The household ordering limit has been set at 100 coins. If the supply was expected to be limited, the limit would have been set much lower. (Although the US Mint always reserves the right to limit or cancel orders after the fact.)

- The lack of Proof Gold and Silver Eagles has gained political attention. It would be a major embarrassment if the US Mint announced the product and then was forced to cut off the offering early or not fulfill some collector orders.

These factors aside, the demand for physical precious metals has been prone to enormous swings during the past two years. It is not outside the realm of possibility that another rush of demand for silver bullion could occur. Under current law, the US Mint would still be required to source all incoming blanks to the production of bullion coins and cease production of collector proof coins.

When the time comes, I will be placing my order on the first day of availability, just to be on the safe side.