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Bottom found for 5-oz silvers?

Demand for collector versions of the 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver coins might just be finding a bottom.

The trend from 2010 to date has been ever downward, but perhaps no more.

We will know more after the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park coin goes on sale today. It is the fourth of the five designs to be offered this year. The fifth, for Denali National Park, is slated for Nov. 5.

Looking at sales figures for the first three designs in 2012 we see El Yunque National Forest at 13,580, Chaco Culture National Historical Park at 10,718 and Acadia National Park at 10,160.

Is 10,000 the floor for these “P” mintmarked collector pieces?

Mintages of the 2011 designs – and they are still being sold, by the way – range from just over 23,000 for the first design of that year to just over 15,000 for the fifth design.

And these were down from the 27,000 recorded for the five 2010 pieces when collectors were experiencing a feeding frenzy.

So if 10,000 becomes a floor, committed collectors looking out to the series completion date in 2021 at least will have an idea of the likely rarity of the set they are in the process of assembling. The question is whether they will consider 10,000 rare enough to justify the expense.

At the present $204.95 price for each coin, it takes more than $1,000 to get the five designs for each year. A full set will be 56 pieces, or roughly $11,500 at present prices. That’s a nice piece of change.

Who knows what the cost will be when the final coin is issued in 2021? If silver bulls are correct about where the price of bullion is going, it will be a pretty penny, and that, rather than collector interest might in the end be sufficient justification for buying this set.

Could that rather than collector interest be the reason the sales numbers might be bottoming out?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."