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Buffalo orders start strong

Gold proof one-ounce Buffalo coin sales got off to a strong start.

In the first three days since orders began being accepted by the Mint on Oct. 29, collectors ordered 19,600 coins. There was no individual order limit imposed.

This number already equals the total number of the 2008 proof one-ounce Buffalo pieces sold.

It is possible that there are some fairly large orders in that total to help make the strong start, but offsetting that possibility is the fact that the Mint is not scheduled to begin its bulk sales program until today. I would expect the order numbers to jump quite a bit higher in percentage terms in the coming week.

Buyers paid $1,360 apiece for the privilege of owning the famous James Earle Fraser design originally used 1913-1938 on the Buffalo nickel.

To look at this initial order number from another perspective, I looked back at the opening of sales for the Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief gold $20. Collectors overloaded the Mint’s Web site and phone lines for that offering.

During the first four days Jan 22-26, sales of the UHR reached 40,727. Buyers paid $1,189 for those coins due to the lower price of gold at the time and orders were restricted to one per household.

Buffalo coin demand did not back up the phone lines or cause computer problems. Everything seemed to work as the Mint and collectors would wish it to work.

By my calculations demand averaged over 6,500 a day for the Buffalo as compared to the slightly more than 10,000 a day for the UHF. That’s pretty darn good for the fourth year of the design.

As time goes on, of course, the rate of orders will plunge, much as it already has for the UHF. Those first four UHF days generated 40 percent of the total sales so far. That is pretty concentrated and it is a buying habit that has been characteristic of collectors since I began ordering from the Mint over four decades ago.