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Are they golden hula-hoops?

Remember the hula-hoop? It was big for a time when I was a kid. Then it wasn’t.

How about the Slinky? Same thing. Big. Then it wasn’t.

The year I was born Davy Crockett was a big hit with coonskin caps for kids and a song that is catchy. Is that why I am called David?

My parents would never admit that, but popular culture plays a part in the decision-making of everybody whether we admit it or not.

Fortunately for me, the other contender for my name was Henry. I can’t see myself as a Henry.

Then we have gold and silver. Some years they are hot. In other years they are not. As wedding rings, gold never goes out of fashion. Silver also has its perennial uses such as baby spoons or other mementoes.

But as an investment gold and silver are hot as hula-hoops and then they are not.

Sellers of precious metals hope every year their hula-hoops will stay popular. But history shows they can’t.

Hula-hoops, Slinkies and even coonskin caps still exist, they just don’t meet the sales targets of their heydays.

Gold and silver will always exist, but periods of hyperactive sales are followed by slower sales periods. Are we entering one of those slower periods now?

For years collectors and investors could not get enough of silver American Eagles. Now they can have all they want from the Mint as there are no current sales restrictions.

Buyers have decided to cut back on their purchases.

I checked the sales numbers this morning and July silver Eagle bullion coin sales are still below the two-million mark at 1,925,000. Compare that figure to 4,775,000 in January, 3,750,000 in February and 5,354,000 in March.

Now the July silver Eagle sales pace still puts anything that occurred before 2008 in the shade. But current sales figures are strongly off their peak.

The message that buyers should look at lower prices as a time of bargain hunting has worn thin. It is over three years since silver peaked near $50 an ounce. Buyers are running out of funds to pay for bargains.

Gold will mark the third anniversary of its peak closing price in August.

How long will the slow sales period last? That’s a key question.

In the 1960s and 1970s price peaks were occurring roughly every six years, and the sales pauses were fairly short.

In the long pause after the 1980 price peak, it took 21 years for the metals to reach bottom and then permanently break out of the sales doldrums.

It is probably true to say that any gold and silver sales pause will probably be at least as long as the 1960s and 1970s and probably shorter than the 1980s and 1990s.

But that still leaves quite a question mark in the minds of potential buyers.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."