If you are planning a gold or silver holiday gift to your loved ones, you had better hurry up.
It might be the season to be jolly, but it is also the season that the Mint begins to run out of its bullion coins.
The first 2015 gold American Eagle to disappear is the quarter ounce.
On Friday the Mint issued a statement that no more will be produced.
Remaining inventories of gold one-ounce, half-ounce and tenth-ounce Eagles will be sold, but the Mint said no additional 2015-dated production will follow after that.
Collectors might correctly observe that they cannot buy bullion coins directly from the Mint.
That is true.
But the supply in the pipeline affects the premiums they will pay on the secondary market. The fewer coins in the pipeline, the higher the premiums.
Gold quarter-ounce coins are just the first to disappear.
The Mint has to prepare for the January rush for all of the new 2016 coins.
While the Mint has 900,000 2015 silver Eagles to sell this week, anyone who wants a 2015 coin plays with fire by delaying the purchase.
This is not an investment forecast on where silver might be going, but simply a statement of the realities of a market for coins of a specific date at the time of the year when the date become the focus.
At some point, the Mint will have to begin production of the 2016 silver Eagles as well.
While silver tends to get the attention, gold Eagle sales have been very strong in 2015 compared to 2014.
The number of ounces sold has risen by 40 percent from 524,500 to 737,500.
The quantity of quarter-ounce Eagle coins sold this year is up by 34 percent.
For the one-ounce piece, the number of coins is up by 37 percent, from 416,500 to 571,500.
For the half ounce, the increase is 48 percent, up from 46,000 pieces to 68,000.
The surprise within gold’s surprising strength is the tenth ounce.
It has experienced the biggest pop.
It is up 64 percent from 565,000 to 925,000 coins.
These coins are often used as jewelry, but they are also favored by mass marketers urging readers and viewers to purchase them as their first gold investment.
Clearly, gold has had a good year in terms of Eagle coins sold. (The increase for Buffalo pieces is just over 6 percent from 177,500 to 189,000.)
Silver is no slouch, as we anticipate equaling and then surpassing last year’s sales record of 44,006,000 coins.
The current sales total is 42,029,500.
In percentage terms, though, when the ultimate sales number is in, the change in silver coin numbers will be modest.
Clearly, the sales growth spurt in 2015 is in gold American Eagle coins.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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