This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Silver American Eagle bullion coins are being test struck at the San Francisco Mint in the expectation that the western facility will begin full-scale production to assist the West Point Mint in meeting unprecedented demand for the coins, the U.S. Mint announced in late March.
The go-ahead has not yet been given, but U.S. Mint Director of Public Affairs Tom Jurkowsky expected that it would be in the next several weeks.
Any American Eagle silver bullion coins minted in San Francisco would not be distinguishable from those produced in West Point.
“Production would include using the same dies, the same methods and the same packaging,” said Jurkowsky. “We do not expect a visible difference between the two coins.”
The Mint expects that demand for the silver Eagles could be as high as 45 million to 50 million pieces in calendar year 2011. In 2010 production was approximately 35 million coins.
This need for a higher level of output in 2011 is putting pressure on West Point because it has been given additional coining assignments this year.
Jurkowsky said legislation in effect for 2011 adds additional products to the West Point portfolio – the silver 9/11 medal and both the Army and Medal of Honor commemorative coins.
Unless demand for the silver Eagles plunges suddenly, the San Francisco Mint would strike “up to a few hundred thousand per week” starting in late May or early June after all 2011 proof sets have been produced.
Eagle production would continue through the summer as needed until 2012 collector set production begins.
The Mint is still assessing the logistics. While some Authorized Purchasers have expressed interest in picking up Eagles in San Francisco, it must be determined whether San Francisco would still need to ship large numbers of the coins east and whether that possibility would be cost effective.
Because the Mint is still allocating silver Eagle supplies, Jurkowsky said that the overall allocation methodology would include both San Francisco and West Point volumes in the weekly allocation calculation.
As of late March, the Mint’s view was “We need help. This is a good way of doing it,” Jurkowsky said.