To say bullion is distracting is probably an understatement. But there is no question the the latest swing in the prices of gold and silver and the huge demand for physical metal is where the action is. The suspension of tenth-ounce gold American Eagle bullion coin sales by the Mint yesterday is the latest chapter in the drama.
But I cannot write about bullion all the time. So, I took a look at the latest sales figures for the two current commemorative coin programs for 2013. I see that the silver dollar in neither program has yet reached a total of 100,000.
The proof Girl Scouts silver dollar has current sales of 68,108 pieces and the uncirculated version is 26,716. The combined total is 94,824.
The peak of initial demand has passed and a slow grind of week-to-week small additions to the numbers moves along.
Sales will continue until December. Will final totals equal the numbers achieved by last year’s silver dollars? Both the Infantry program and the Star-Spangled Banner program managed about 200,000 dollars when all of the sales options were added together.
That seems like a big hill to climb for the current offerings.
The other 2013 program is the 5-Star General three-denomination set that includes the silver dollar.
So far 40,607 proofs have been sold and 18,305 uncirculateds, with another 10,000 proofs thrown in from sales of a three-coin set. This adds up to a total of 68,912 dollar coins.
The generals set was put on the market after the Girl Scouts program, so it is somewhat earlier in its sales cycle.
But even taking that into account, 200,000 dollars also looks like a tall hill to climb.
Will commemorative sales put in a strong performance between now and year end to catch up to last year's programs?
Right now it doesn’ look like it.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."