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What will follow yesterday's Eagle news?

The Mint’s ability to meet demand for physical bullion coin products is under growing stress. That could not be more clear from yesterday’s memo to its authorized purchasers.

From this point forward, it will concentrate its resources on the one-ounce gold American Eagle and the one-ounce silver American Eagle.

Though, like a general that orders one final bombardment just before surrendering the position, the Mint will make another sally at supplying one-ounce Buffalo coins and platinum Eagles of all sizes. It will strike another batch of all of them, but once they are gone, that will be it for 2008-dated coins. The same is true for the tenth-ounce gold Eagle.

Supplies of half-ounce and quarter-ounce gold Eagles are exhausted and the Mint won’t even attempt to make a final batch of these.

It is logical in the face of unprecedented demand that the Mint focus its efforts on the two popular one-ounce Eagle sizes. Collectors will be able to look back at the Mintages for these two sizes and nod knowingly that the high totals sprang from an ongoing financial crisis in 2008.

What will follow?

If history is any guide, when the current crisis abates, demand for these coins will fall off a cliff much like demand for coinage in the severe 1921 recession made the dimes, quarters and half dollars of that year fairly rare dates and there were none of these denominations produced at all in 1922.

Silver dollars I should point out ran counter to this trend because of special circumstances. Its demand centered on the Treasury and its need to obtain as quickly as possible a supply of coins to back Silver Certificates, which had been retired because of Pittman Act melting. The order for 270 million new dollars kept the Mint busy until it was fully filled in 1928.

The Mint will not have a countercyclical coin order like that for Eagles once the current demand breaks.

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