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December bullion comparisons are revealed

Late rush to buy bullion in December 2005 provided a big boost to gold and platinum sales.

New Year?s Eve is just a distant, cloudy memory by now. Even the hangover is finally gone.

But here?s something to help you ring in the new year: it?s the first sales figures for a 2006 product from the Mint.

Let me be the first to inform you that 92,065 2006 five-quarter clad proof sets had been sold as of Jan. 10. Let the confetti and balloons fall from the ceiling.
Next up on the release schedule is the 2006 nickel, which will feature a forward-looking Thomas Jefferson for the first time and a reverse with Felix Schlag?s much-revered 1938 rendition of Jefferson?s Virginia home, the stately Monticello.

As anyone who read the Jan. 17 column of Mint Statistics knows, I was a little under the gun in writing that column. I have more time and space this week.
Being on a very tight deadline, I didn?t have much time to study the late-arriving sales figures. But even as I was frantically plugging the numbers into the boxes, I couldn?t help but notice the bullion numbers.

They?d risen dramatically in a short time, due probably to the holiday buying season. Evidently, that?s the way it always goes with bullion and other Mint products. The end of the year comes and the sales numbers shoot up. Then, there?s also the matter of the recent bumps in market prices of gold and platinum.

In retrospect, the rise shouldn?t have come as a big surprise. Still, I did want to draw your attention to those bullion totals, if for no other reason than to compare them to those of December 2004. I made an allusion to those numbers in my column in the Jan. 17 issue, but because time and space ran out, I couldn?t do a proper comparison. It didn?t help that in my haste I forgot to add the coin totals for platinum and gold.

Now that I have, here goes nothing.

In light of the new totals, it would seem that my statement that the 2005 numbers weren?t as strong as 2004 was somewhat incorrect.

In all, a total of 178,500 gold bullion coins were sold in December 2005, as compared to 147,000 in December 2004. Could be the skyrocketing price of gold had something to do with it. That, along with it being the holiday season and the end of the year, probably helped push the numbers up.

Percentagewise, the platinum numbers are even more eye-opening. Consider that in December 2004, a total of 6,600 platinum coins were sold. In the same month in 2005, 18,600 ? again, I forgot to add them up in the Jan. 17 issue ? went out the Mint?s door. Remember those months in 2005 when no platinum bullion coins were sold?

The same can?t be said for silver, though. In December 2004, 2,622,500 silver one-ounce coins were sold, compared to 2,145,000 in December 2005.
Before I forget, I took out the Westward Journey Nickel Set numbers. They?re still off sale, so don?t go thinking you can still buy one.
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