As I wrote my Mint Statistics column in Numismatic News yesterday, I noticed something interesting.
Sales of the 5-ounce silver bullion coin honoring Ellis Island were nearly double that of the two prior issues.
Authorized Purchasers have taken 39,500 of them compared to 20,000 each for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and Frederick Douglass National Historic Site pieces.
Furthermore, Ellis Island has only recently gone on sale.
What accounts for this higher demand?
I have come up with two possibilities.
Silver bullion has gotten rambunctious in recent days.
It has risen from a low point that was actually below the price it began the year at.
Since the early July number of $15.28, according to the Kitco website, it has leaped by more than $2 to $17.34 as of this morning.
Bullion buyers might be jumping on the silver bandwagon and buying 5-ounce Ellis Island coins.
But if that were the case, sales of one-ounce American Eagle silver bullion coins would rise also.
After all, the one-ounce coins are the bullion market leaders.
Five-ounce coins have not caught on to the same degree and probably never will.
However, there is no similar leap higher by the one-ounce silver American Eagles.
August sales so far, and today is the last day, are less than half of July’s total.
The August number is 1,025,000 compared to 2,320,000 in July.
No leap in demand here probably indicates that buyers of the 5-ounce Ellis Island coins have another motive.
The Ellis Island immigration story used to be an all-American tale.
We used to call ourselves a nation of immigrants.
The passage through Ellis Island was a part of many family histories.
Perhaps buyers of the 5-ounce bullion coins think this story still resonates.
Sales of the special collector version starts Sept. 7.
I will watch to see how that goes.
I will also watch sales of the clad quarter version of the design.
Rolls and bags began going out the door at the Mint Aug. 28.
The three-quarter set will go on sale Sept. 14.
If nothing else, demand for Ellis Island 5-ounce coins proves that coin themes still matter.
A hunk of precious metal can indeed be made more appealing by what is stamped on it.
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."
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