This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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If the Mint can find the planchets, will buyers take a record number of gold one-ounce American Eagle coins in 2010?
It looks like a race.
Through the month of May, buyers have snapped up 527,500 coins. This works out to an annual demand rate of 1,266,000 pieces.
That would put this year’s sales near the records, but would not set one.
Demand for the one-ounce coin has run hot twice before. In 1986 when the program first began 1,362,650 filled the pipeline for the first ever American bullion coin to compete with the Krugerrand.
Annual demand then declined over time to a mintage low of 189,148 struck in 1996.
Production next leaped in 1998 and 1999 as buyers anticipated Y2K problems with the world’s computers.
The 1998 mintage was 1,468,530 and in 1999 it was 1,505,026.
Will 2009 and 2010 set the same paired year pattern?
Last year the Mint sold 1,315,500 one-ounce gold Eagles.
Sales of the silver American Eagle are already in record territory at 15,676,500 coins sold through May.
This works out to an annual pace of 37,623,600 coins, far beyond last year’s 28,766,500 coins sold.
These numbers make demand during the 1986 debut year of 5,393,005 look tepid.
But while demand for the silver American Eagle followed a pattern similar to gold’s, it did not fluctuate as widely as demand for the gold coin.
Mintage numbers reached a nadir of 3,603,386 in 1996 and began climbing. But Y2K seemed to be a nonevent for silver buyers because rising mintages in 1998 and 1999 of 4,847,549 and 7,408,640, respectively, were followed by even higher totals in the years immediately following.
The first five months of 2010 have set high expectations and for the next seven months the market will be watching to see if they are fulfilled.