Low demand for American Eagle bullion coins in August allowed the U.S. Mint to get a jump on production of 2015 Eagles, the Mint says, but the September demand surge for the coins caused it to refocus on 2014 output
The end of the calendar year is always tricky for the Mint and its bullion coin program.
It needs to stop producing 2014 Eagles at some point and begin to build a stockpile of 2015 coins for release in January.
Cutting current year coin sales off too early creates a tightness of supply in the bullion coin market and that tightness itself seems to inflame demand from buyers who hear that supplies are running low.
Letting current year sales run too long on the other hand could imperil the start of January 2015 coin sales, again creating a sense of shortage that prompts many to want to buy more than they otherwise would.
Often, in years past, the production cutoff of current year coins came in November followed by last sales date in early December. Presumably something similar will happen this year.
That leaves a sales gap between the last December sales and the first ones in January.
Public demand for Eagles is often higher as the year comes to an end due to holiday gift giving.
Demand is super high in January because of the scramble by collectors and others to be the first to obtain coins with the new date on them.
Overall, sales for silver and gold 2014 1-ounce Eagles are running behind last year’s pace.
This is especially true for the gold Eagle, where buyers have taken roughly 300,000 coins this year compared to twice that number in 2013.
For silver, the disparity for this point in the year is less than 3 million coins, 36,275,000 last year compared to the current 33,981,000.
The silver sales difference is not large on an annual basis, but what if demand is simply delayed?
What if buyers decide they want those 2.7 million pieces plus what they would want on a routine basis in October, November in December?
That would amplify the current demand surge and further complicate the Mint’s annual changeover to a new date.
A possibility, though, is not a certainty, so it pays to remain alert and watch day to day to see how Eagle sales are performing.
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."