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Bullion buyers love 5 ouncers

Is it a flying turkey that attracts buyers, or has the 5-ounce America the Beautiful silver bullion coin series finally convinced precious metals buyers that these coins are a good way to own silver?

Whatever it is, the Mint has reported that 42,000 silver bullion coins have been sold with the Kisatchie National Forest design on it.

This is up from the 35,000 of the 2015 Homestead National Monument of America design that have been sold.

Both of these coin sales totals are higher than the highest design total for any of the five pieces sold in 2014.

Back in 2014, the Great Smoky Mountains piece saw 33,000 vended.

That data point alone is not all that different from the 35,000 Homestead, but then demand fell sharply.

For the second 2014 design, fthe Shenandoah National Park, the sales number was 25,000.

The third design for Arches National Park came in at 22,000 and the fourth design for Great Sand Dunes National Park was also 22,000.

It was only for the fifth design of 2014, the Everglades National Park piece, where demand returned to a higher level at 34,000.

It is clear the 2014 sales pattern has been broken.

The combined sales total for the first two designs of 2015 is now 77,000, up 33 percent from last year’s 58,000.

That is a strong gain.

Are lower silver prices this year spurring buyers to snap these pieces up as bargains?

Whatever the reason, it is not infecting collectors.

Sales of the collector versions of these coins with the “P” mintmark are trailing last year’s numbers by quite a bit.

Homestead sales are 17,998 compared to last year's Great Smoky Mountains number of 24,710.

Kisathchie is 16,369 so far compared to Shenandoah’s 28,451.

Why such pronounced differences?

It is probably price based.

You can buy the Kisatchie piece for $149.95, which is hardly different from the $154 price the prevailed for much of last year.

Silver has been running $3 to $4 an ounce less this year compared to last.

Collectors are just as sharp in seeing value or its lack.

It might even be collectors who are buying the bullion pieces instead of the collector version.

After all, is a “P” mintmark worth the collector premium being charged?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."