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Fewer bullion buyers mean greater opportunity

January is nearly over.

Gold and silver American Eagles sales are down sharply.

The first month of the year usually is when there is a scramble to get coins with the new date and to refill the supply pipeline.

If there is a scramble for new dates this year, it is less than last year.

If the pipeline is being refilled, it is at a slower pace.

So far this month, sales of silver American Eagles are down 38 percent.

Last year, buyers took 5,127,500 coins.

This year, the total stands at 3,195,000.

That number is 1,932,500 fewer.

The gold sales decline is greater than silver’s.

Gold Eagle sales are down 60 percent.

So far, 35,000 one-ounce gold Eagles, which are most preferred by investors, have been sold.

In January 2017, the total was 86,500. The difference is 51,500 coins.

If we look at the sales total for all four sizes in terms of gold ounces sold, the decline is slightly smaller at 51 percent.

What does this decline mean? That is the million dollar question for any bullion investor.

Because these numbers were taken from the Mint’s website this morning, we can assume they will change a bit before the final monthly figure is arrived at.

However, the change is not going to be large enough to reverse the conclusion that bullion Eagle buyers are cooler toward these coins than they were a year ago.

Furthermore, the January 2017 number was weaker than the January 2016 number.

Then, the sales pace continued to deteriorate all year in 2017.

Are we facing this pattern again in 2018?

It is hard to believe that we are.

The Treasury secretary last week said he wanted a lower dollar.

When the U.S. dollar declines, bullion rises. That was the story of 2001-2011.

Even in an uptrend, bullion prices do not rise every single day. But they do rise.

Early in the last cycle, stories about buying gold coins when prices are favorable were at the bottom of interest levels in Numismatic News. I think we are at a similar juncture now.

If you are one of the hesitant buyers, it might be time to evaluate your position.

Should the value of your gold and silver holdings be more than 10 percent of your investible funds, you are wise to hold back.

However, if the value of your gold and silver holdings are less than 10 percent of your investible funds, it is time to consider topping up what you have.

Best of all, as a coin collector, if you are buying gold and silver coins now, you will be rewarded over the long term.

Downward Eagle sales fluctuations mean you have less competition at the moment. Take advantage of 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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