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Silver Eagle sales close in on record

The silver American Eagle bullion coin is set to hit a record sales year in 2014, spurred on by low silver prices and high buyer interest.

But will it really be a record year?

In terms of dollars spent on silver Eagles, 2014 will be nowhere near it. Authorized Purchasers are buying more silver Eagles than ever, but are spending less on them.

Tom Jurkowsky, director of Public Affairs for the United States Mint, said that revenue is lower on the silver Eagle, but that’s not an issue.

Graph of the annual silver Eagle sales (in ounces or total coins) from 2004 to 2014.

Graph of the annual silver Eagle sales (in ounces or total coins) from 2004 to 2014.

“We’re not here to make a profit,” he said. “Profit isn’t in our vocabulary here.

“We’re here to provide a service. Our mission is to build up a solid supply of bullion coins.”

Looking at ounces or total coins sold, 2014 saw 42,209,500 silver Eagles sold as of Dec. 2. Compared to 2013’s record total of 42,675,000 coins purchased, only 465,500 more need to be bought to make 2014 a record year of sales.

Jurkowsky said the surge in demand for silver Eagles in 2014 came as a result of a lower silver price.

“There are market forces at work,” he said. “When the price is low, the Authorized Purchasers are being prudent and are buying.

“I know that if I were a buyer, I would too.”

Graph of the annual silver Eagle sales (in terms of cost to the buyer) from 2004 to 2014.

Graph of the annual silver Eagle sales (in terms of cost to the buyer) from 2004 to 2014.

For money spent on the coin, however, only $798,476,240 worth of 2014 silver Eagles were purchased by the end of November. The record holder is still 2011, with $1,391,400,400 total spent on silver Eagles, according to monthly sales data from the U.S. Mint and average monthly silver prices from Kitco.

Silver Eagle revenue in 2011 was boosted by large sales and high bullion prices, a result of the Great Recession and its effects on the precious metals market.

At its peak in late April 2011, the price of silver hit $48.70 an ounce. The average alone for that year was $35.12.

That same month 2,819,000 silver Eagles were ordered. Priced according to the month’s average of $41.97 an ounce, sales totaled $118,313,430 that month alone.

Both 2012 and 2013 also outweigh 2014 in terms of money spent on silver Eagles, with $1,047,783,615 in 2012 and $1,056,746,755 in 2013.

The yearly averages for an ounce of silver in 2012 and 2013 are $31.15 and  $23.79, respectively.

For 2014, even if the same amount sold in November, 3,426,000 coins, are purchased in December, only an additional $54,816,000 will be added to the 2014 total, keeping it well below 2011, 2012 or 2013.

Even that number may be difficult to achieve with the rationing of 2014 silver Eagles and the changeover to 2015 silver Eagle production and sales.

Jurkowsky said the Mint began allocating silver Eagle sales as interest in the coin increased dramatically.

“The demand of a couple weeks ago, around the start of October, was unprecedented,” Jurkowsky said. “We only used to see that demand in January, when the coins are first offered.

“We’re trying to do the best we can since we’ve gone on allocation. We did cease production as we worked to build up our supply of silver. Once that supply was built back up, we resumed production and allocated sales.”

Interest in the silver Eagle as a bullion coin has always been high though, he said.

“These coins are representative of the nation,” Jurkowsky said. “Buyers will specifically seek out silver Eagles because they know and trust them.”

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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