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Eagle sales show gathering strength

I drove into the office in the extreme cold this morning and was delighted to find that there is a little fire in precious metals.

Gold is at $1,323.20 an ounce.

Silver is $16.13 an ounce.

Both are up strongly from where they opened the year.

Gold closed out 2018 at $1,278.30.

The current price is $44.90 higher.

Silver ended 2018 at $15.433.

Current price is 69.7 cents higher.

If we need more evidence of a strong January, just look at the gold and silver American Eagle sales.

Both are beating their performance of January 2018.

The one-ounce gold Eagle sales number of 44,500, is 8,500 higher than one year ago.

Silver Eagles at 4,017,500 are way ahead of 2018’s 3,235,000.

However, before we get giddy, we should look at January 2017.

Sales results of January 2019 don’t come close.

One-ounce gold Eagle sales in January 2017 were 86,500.

The silver Eagle total for January 2017 was 5,127,500.

I don’t want to make the case that 2019 is showing weakness.

I think the numbers show recovery and gathering strength.

My speech at the Florida United Numismatists convention earlier this month was based on my annual forecasts.

If you look at them, you could say the market was at a standstill for two years if they come true on Dec. 31, 2019.

For gold and silver prices, I forecast a return to where they were at the beginning of 2018 by the end of 2019.

That doesn’t seem to be very exciting does it?

My $1,400 gold forecast is a bit higher than where gold’s price stood at the beginning of 2018, and silver at $17 is the same.

You just have to think of this two-year period as one where we bottomed out and turned around.

Who knows? With 11 months left in 2019, prices could easily blow past my forecasts.

That would please me.

A rising price of bullion helps underpin a strong coin market as long as the increases are not so large that they become a distraction.

Eagle sales do not show any distracting excesses – just reassuring recovery.

Sleep easy.

Before I close, I should report that I had a call this morning from a collector who had received his Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 2019 Proof Half Dollar Sets. He had ordered two.

He said the 2019-S Kennedy half dollars were not reverse proofs.

He said the Kennedy profile was not mirror-like but satin finish.

That is not what he was expecting.

The Mint calls them enhanced reverse proof.

What is that? I don’t know. It is a new term.

A new term implies a different look.

Without images, I cannot make a judgment, but I have no reason to doubt the eyes of the collector.

I told him that all the Kennedy coins in the sets might look this way.

I also said that they could be an error, but I hesitate to go down this road before I actually see the coins in question.

Look at your sets.

Is the Kennedy profile mirror-like or satin finish?

If you see satin also, that probably means all coins look like this.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."