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Bullion Mardi Gras starts in January

Can’t wait for the arrival of the 2017 American Eagle bullion coins?

You are not alone.

There are tens of thousands of others just like you.

If there was such a thing as a Mardi Gras for bullion investment, the first few weeks after new bullion coins become available are it.

The United States Mint needs to strike five million or six million one-ounce silver Eagle coins to be ready.

Even then, initial demand can overwhelm the Mint’s supply.

In that case, rationing will resume. That will spur even greater demand.

Then more people will want to get in on the party.

Silver Eagle bullion coins are the center of attention.

In some years gold American Eagles hardly party at all.

I took a look at January sales figures for the years 2011 to 2016.

For silver Eagles, simply saying demand is huge in January is an understatement.

In 2016 the number sold was 5,954,500.

In 2015 it was 5,530,000.

In 2014 it was 4,775,000.

In 2013 it was 7,498,000.

In 2012 it was 6,107,000.

In 2011, January sales were 6,422,000.

What’s it going to be in January 2017?

Getting the new date quickly is a primary motivation to buy for the nation’s coin collectors.

I recall making purchases on more than one occasion for this reason.

Being the first on the block to have something is a powerful impulse.

For investors, perhaps because silver is down from its July high of over $20, they will jump in so as not to miss a possible move higher.

With so many collectors scrambling to buy in January, it is easy to mistake this activity for the beginning of a new bull market.

For some years January is indeed the beginning of a new bull market.

January 2016 was such a month.

Gold Eagle buyer behavior in January fluctuates more widely.

The January gold one-ounce coin sales are below.

2016: 89,000

2015: 51,500

2014: 62,500

2013: 124,500

2012: 84.500

2011: 130,500

So what will it be for gold buyers in 2017?

There are three fractional sizes of gold bullion coins in addition to the ounce.

In some years, they reflect a normal demand pattern.

In 2016, there were 35,000 ounces of gold struck into these smaller sizes and sold in January.

However, in January 2011, the one-ounce was basically the whole show. Only 3,000 ounces of gold in other sizes were sold.

The market is counting down the days until the Mint begins taking orders for bullion Eagle coins on Jan. 9.

I’ll bet you are too.

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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