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Does bullion depress Kennedy buyers?

Gold is down another $23 this morning from yesterday’s closing price. It is trading at $1,144.20 a troy ounce, according to the Kitco website

Silver is lower as well. It has sunk to $15.37, off almost 56 cents from yesterday’s close.

Serious weakness in precious metals enveloped the four-coin silver Kennedy 50th anniversary set offer that began Oct. 28. Gold is down $100 since Oct. 22 and silver is down $1.82.

Are weak precious metals leading to weak Kennedy set sales?

I think there is a good chance that is the case.

Last week I reported that sales of the silver Kennedy sets totaled 85,670 in the first 12 hours as tallied by the Mint.

A further 39,477 sets were sold through Sunday, Nov. 2.

In the first five days the Mint has vended 125,147.

While this number is not yet game, set and match. It is close. Collectors have been trained by both personal desire and the need to get early slabs to front-end load their purchases of new coins from the Mint.

That means the bulk of demand has already probably been satisfied.

If this is the case, the Mint will be lucky to sell the 190,000 sets it prepared in advance of the offer, let alone the 300,000 maximum it belatedly imposed Oct. 24.

Judging from my email, Numismatic News readers have been buyers of multiple sets.

That means they will be looking to unload them on the secondary market as quick as they can to take advantage of any market pop higher.

If sales momentum drops off sharply, what will that mean going forward?

It could mean that the Kennedy sets will be offered by the Mint into next year to clear out inventory.

There is no authorizing legislation to terminate the offer at the end of the year.

Of course, I can be wrong, but from my vantage point, the silver Kennedy set offer looks like it has attracted a mediocre collector response.

I think it would have done far better if it had been offered during the summer when the other two special Kennedy offers first began.

But the Mint had a good reason for the delay.

It did not want to make an offer on its old website. It did not want to rile collectors with any problems associated with it.

Instead, it scheduled the Kennedy silver offer for after the new website went live Oct. 1 and then gave collectors four weeks to re-establish their passwords and provide necessary customer information.

From a vendor service point of view, this was wise. Sales went quickly and smoothly.

But the cost might very well be that the Mint missed the emotional collector wave that prevailed in July and August when bullion prices were actually rising.

Falling bullion prices are not the only reason for collectors to have lost some of their enthusiasm for Kennedy coins, but they might have been the final straw for many potential buyers.

If sales are following the pattern I think they are, we will report a number around 145,000 next week and at the end of the year the number will be around 170,000.

That would leave the Mint with 20,000 extra sets.

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."