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Eagle-Buffalo bullion race still neck and neck

The need to redecorate this page has become apparent this week as the Mint begins selling the 2006 uncirculated coin set, popularly called a mint set. Also going on sale again are older sets containing nickels from prior years featuring the Westward Journey design themes that made 2004 and 2005 so interesting for collectors of the five-cent denomination. The Mint had sought congressional approval to put these coins back on the market, so let?s see how collectors respond with their hard-earned hobby budgets.

This week?s proof American Buffalo number rose by 20,000 coins as compared to a 24,000 rate of increase in the prior week. We have now passed the halfway mark for sales. Some 156,000 have been sold out of a possible 300,000 maximum.

Also, this week?s number is the last one to be recorded while the 10-coin order limit was in effect. As of July 25, the order limit has been raised to 5,000 coins. If any reader plans to buy 5,000, let us know.

If there is an influx of large orders for Buffalo proofs, next week?s numbers should start reflecting it and we can revisit the sellout/no sellout discussion with readers.

Once again this week the peculiar tie between one-ounce American Eagle uncirculated gold bullion coin and the new American Buffalo gold bullion coin is apparent. The Mint?s authorized purchasers have taken 107,000 American Eagles and 105,500 Buffalo gold pieces.

We are not aware of any ?buy one, get one free? promotion that the Mint may be running, so how to account for this ongoing similarity is still a mystery to us. Bullion buyers don?t generally buy two-coin sets with one of each design. It is possible the authorized purchasers are simply filling their supply chain with the new Buffaloes and the July numbers thus far are simply coincidences. Let?s keep watching this.

Silver American Eagles keep rolling along. The July numbers jumped by 160,000 this week to reach 367,000. This isn?t a record by any stretch of the imagination, but it does indicate that even with silver hovering around $11 an ounce, buyers of the one-ounce silver bullion coin are slapping their cash down and carrying them away. Monthly platinum numbers in contrast did not move at all and are extremely low.

The proof silver American Eagle sales increased by 11,144 this week, making this collector version of the bullion coin a steady performer in the Mint?s product lineup. Collectors are partial to silver proof coins. They are gorgeous and nearly everybody can afford at least one coin each year.

Speaking of silver, the performance of the 10-coin silver proof set was steady from last week, up 21,531, while the five-quarter silver set saw sales slow to just 5,675. Don?t call this a trend yet. The clad coins did rather better. The 10-coin clad proof set jumped by 35,748 and the five-quarter set sales held at a steady rate of 8,253 for the week.

Have you ordered your 2006 mint set yet? If so, let the Letters section know what you think of it when delivered.

Send e-mail to david.harper@fwpubs.com.

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