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What's with the sales surges?

With gold skittering along the $900-a-troy-ounce mark, the Mint has announced that the 2008 American Eagle tenth-ounce gold proof coins sold out yesterday.

Collectors are by now getting used to a new pattern as sales for collector versions of the Eagles close.

As they watch which mintages look low as the year closes, what they see are very large sales surges in percentage terms at the end of their availability.

The one-ounce proof was at 11,722 in the Nov. 9 report. It jumped to 16,327 by the Dec. 14 report.

The half ounce was 3,169 Dec. 14. It leaped to 14,792 by Jan. 11.

The quarter ounce was 4,639 Dec. 14.  The total in the Jan. 11 was 15,229.

The surge for the tenth has been smaller. It was sitting at 10,335 Dec. 14 and was 13,580 last week.

Even the four-coin set had a merry run. It went from 9,569 Dec. 14 to 13,072 Jan. 11.

Are all these being purchased by individual collector buyers, or are there large purchases being made by a very few buyers? If the latter is true, these large supplies (in percentage terms) will overhang the market for quite some time unless some sort of promotion can convince individual buyers to take a chance on them.

These relatively small sales numbers that then large leaps should be a caution flag for anyone looking to do anything other than buy them for the long term. Can you imagine the buzz in the hobby if this kind of sales leap occurred with proof sets or uncirculated coin sets?

By the way, also announced yesterday, the American Buffalo 2008 Celebration Coins sold out.

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