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Gold American Eagle shortage over

There are no trumpets or loud huzzahs, but the gold and silver American Eagle shortage is over. Bullion investors might even consider this bad news.

The Mint notified its authorized purchasers yesterday that the allocation system that has been in place is now over.

Silver American Eagles have been rationed by the Mint since April 21, 2008. The gold American Eagle allocations began Aug. 25, 2008.

The Mint now says that supplies on hand are sufficient to meet market requirements.

This confirms what dealers in the marketplace have been seeing for some weeks now, at least since the end of April. The high premiums that prevailed during the shortage came down and waiting times for delivery disappeared.

Market pundits who have cited the shortage of American Eagles as one reason gold and silver were going to soar further in price will now have to re-evaluate market conditions.

The good news for collectors is that the collector versions of the American Eagles, the proof and uncirculated “W” mintmarked coins, will now become real possibilities again, though it is too soon to know what the release schedule will be.

During the bullion coin shortage the production of collector versions was suspended so that all resources could be thrown into bullion coin production.

A message on the Mint’s Web site says the United States Mint is required by Public Law 99-185 to produce these coins (bullion American Eagles) “in quantities sufficient to meet public demand . . . .”

In any case, as the same message notes, the fractional uncirculated “W” gold American Eagles will not ever come back.

I can now go back to explaining to readers what the difference is between regular bullion American Eagles and the “W” uncirculated collector version. As a letter in yesterday’s mail demonstrates to me, some don’t know they are two separate issues.

But that is good news, too, because that’s why I’m here.