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2015 was year of gold

Before anyone wants to declare the year just past as the year of the U.S. gold bullion coin buyer, it might pay to look a little deeper into some statistics assembled by the U.S. Mint on the final day of 2015.

The number of ounces of gold American Eagle bullion coins sold in 2015 rose by 52.81 percent.

For the gold Buffalo, the increase was 24.22 percent, which is quite a huge gain made to look small by comparison to the American Eagle figures.

For the silver one-ounce American Eagle, sales increased by a rather small 6.8 percent.

This, of course, has nothing to do with less demand for silver than for gold by potential buyers. Instead, it is a reflection of the Mint’s ongoing battle to meet demand that consistently runs higher than its ability to supply silver coins.

Perhaps as an indication of this, sales of silver in the form of 5-ounce America the Beautiful bullion coins in percentage terms beat even the gain of the gold American Eagles.

They (five designs) were up 58.89 percent. That is an impressive number.

The 5-ounce silver number sales number was 667,500 ounces in 2014. It went up to 1,060,600 ounces in 2015, or a gain of 393,100 ounces.

In terms of number of coins sold, the 5-ounce pieces came in with a cumulative 212,120 pieces, up from 133,500 in 2014.

Compared to the 47 million silver American Eagles, it is clear that the Eagles are bullion buyers’ preferred silver bullion coin choice.

What isn’t clear is whether the 5-ounce coin sales gain was driven by buyers trying to acquire these silver bullion coins because they had no choice with Eagles being rationed, or whether buyers are truly getting used to the bigger bullion coins.

That is a question to keep in the back of your mind in 2016.

Now for the specific numbers for gold coins:

The Buffalo piece went from 177,500 sold in 2014 to 220,500 in 2015 for a gain of 43,000.

For the one-ounce gold Eagle, the 2014 sales of 415,500 were improved by 211,000 coins to 626,500 in 2015.

For the half-ounce size, sales were 37,500 ounces in 2015, or 75,000 coins compared to 23,000 ounces in 2014, or 46,000 coins.

The gain for the quarter-ounce size was 10,000 ounces to 39,500 in 2015, up from 29,500 in 2014. In terms of number of quarter-ounce coins, there were 158,000 sold in 2015 compared to 118,000 in 2014.

Tenth-ounce numbers gained 41,500 ounces. There were 56,500 ounces sold in 2014 and 98,000 in 2015, or in terms of number of coins, 565,000 and 980,000, respectively.

In terms of percentages, the gold Eagle ounce’s gain was 50.78 percent, the half ounce was 63.04 percent, the quarter ounce was 33.89 percent and the tenth ounce was 73.45 percent.

Yeah, now that we have thought about the Mint's silver bullion coin sales, it is still clear that it would not be unfair to call 2015 the year of the gold bullion coin buyer.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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