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Fluctuation in American Eagle mintages noted

Highs and lows for platinum, gold and silver American eagles outlined.

As was reported in the March 7 issue of Numismatic News, mintages for the platinum series American Eagle proof coins hit rock bottom in 2005.

Sales were sporadic even in the best of months, and evidently, the U.S. Mint couldn't justify minting a whole bunch of them if it thought nobody was going to buy them ? the law of supply and demand in action, folks.

In light of the situation, I thought it might be a good idea to share the highs and lows of the series' mintages over the years.

Platinum is the new kid on the block, relatively speaking. The program started in 1997. Gold and silver programs were initiated 11 years earlier.

In 2005, the one-ounce platinum coin dropped from 7,009 in 2004 to 6,310, a series low. It had company. The half-ounce platinum went from 13,236 to 9,013, the quarter-ounce plummeted from 18,010 to 12,013, and the tenth-ounce fell to 14,013 from 15,010.

That's a far cry from the late 1990s, when the platinum program began. All four platinum categories experienced their highest mintages in either 1998 or 1997. Here's a breakdown: 133,002 for the one-ounce in 1998 (next highest was 56,707 in 1999); 32,419 for the 1998 half-ounce; 39,734 for the 1997 quarter-ounce specimen; and 70,250 for the tenth-ounce, 1997.

Platinum is a special case. Among precious metals, its per-ounce cost is light years higher than gold or silver. That, probably more than anything, explains the mintage disparity between the three programs.

Let's look at gold. In 2005, mintages for the gold bullion American Eagles were as follows: one-ounce, 356,555; half-ounce, 80,023; quarter-ounce, 72,015; and the tenth-ounce, 300,043. Among gold versions, the tenth-ounce was the only category that saw an increase in 2005.

Lows for gold issue mintages are: one-ounce, 143,605, 2001; half-ounce, 24,100, 1991; quarter-ounce, 36,100, 1997; and the tenth-ounce, 159,500, 1988.

Highs for gold issues are: one-ounce, 1,505,026, 1999; half-ounce, 599,566, 1986; quarter-ounce, 726,031, 1986; and tenth-ounce, 2,750,338, 1999.

Silver is a little different from the other two in that the only version available is the one-ounce coin. The mintage for the 2005 silver bullion American Eagle fell pretty much right in the middle, skewing perhaps a little higher than past years. In 2005, the silver mintage was 8,891,025, compared to the 1996 low of 3,603,386 and the 1987 high of 11,442,335.

Just thought you'd like to know.

 Take note: the proof 2005 American Eagle platinum tenth-ounce is no longer available. At last count, the Mint sold 3,800 of them.

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