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Demand high for Eagles and High Reliefs

The race for the title of silver American Eagle best sales month of 2015 comes down to the final day – and it could hardly be closer.

With sales of 197,500 of the popular bullion coins yesterday, the Mint has 180,000 left of the 3 million quantity it had to start the week July 27.

The January monthly sales total was 5,530,000 one-ounce silver Eagles.

The July sales total as of yesterday stands at 5,529,000.

Will one of the Authorized Purchasers take another 1,001 coins to set the 2015 monthly high?

Whether July beats January or January remains in first place, the monthly results are for all practical purposes the same.

The really serious question is whether buyers of these silver Eagles will prove to be right to pile in at this time, taking advantage of the lowest silver bullion prices of the year.

This morning an ounce of silver was valued at $14.82, according to the popular and handy Kitco website.

Cheaper bullion prices might also be emboldening buyers of the new $100 High Relief gold coin that contains a troy ounce of .9999 fine silver.

Issue price is $1,490.

As promised yesterday, the Mint message on the website this morning changed from “currently unavailable” to backorder.

“This item is available to be ordered now, but it is not currently in stock. Additional inventory is being made. Please add the item to your cart to see when additional inventory is expected to be available,” reads the message followed by a shopping cart message of: “The expected in-stock date is Thu Oct 01 2015.”

Will collectors who did not get their orders in yesterday want to wait until October?

Yesterday saw sales of about 35,000 of the 50,000 maximum possible in about three and a half hours.

The promised additional supply will not in any way change the maximum mintage figure.

Market watchers are wondering how many of these new coins are going to individual collectors and how many are going to coin marketing firms.

The order limit per household is 50 coins, which is $74,500.

Not too many individual collectors will lay out that kind of money.

The answer to the question is important because if large quantities are concentrated in the hands of a few, at some point they will become available on the secondary market and could depress the price unless numerous individuals who did not place an order with the Mint suddenly decide they want the High Relief.

In effect, large quantities in the hands of marketers is a bet either on getting many of them graded 70 with an early release designation, or that there will be a large number of collectors who for some reason did not, or could not, order them from the Mint, but still wants to buy them.

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."

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