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Gold buyers wait for proof(s)?

Gold has dropped significantly in value in the last week. The public in response has stepped up purchases of gold bullion coins.

How will buyers of the collector version of the gold American Eagle respond today in current market conditions? Will they prove their long-term optimism as well?

At noon Eastern time the U.S. Mint will begin taking orders for the proofs.

They are not cheap. The only consolation is that they might have been even more expensive.

The one-ounce proof gold Eagle is priced at $1,810, almost 30 percent more than the cost of the precious metal alone.

The half ounce is $920, the quarter ounce is $472.50, the tenth ounce is $200 and a set comprised of all four is $3,352.50.

Mintage limits have been reduced from last year’s levels, but still look rather aggressive compared to the 2012 coins’ sales figures.

The 2013 one-ounce proof limit is 20,000, down from 30,000, but last year’s sales were 14,848.

For the half ounce, the limit is unchanged at 10,000, but sales of the 2012 coin were 3,962.

The quarter ounce limit dropped to 10,000 from 12,000 in 2012 when sales were 4,969.

For the tenth ounce, the 2013 limit is 20,000, down from 25,000 and this compares to 2012 sales of 11,680.

The four-coin set limit is 20,000, down from 30,000, but significantly more than the 8,957 2012 sets sold.

Will first day buyers be active, or will they join the collectors who like to wait until the end of the program to cherry pick the lowest mintages?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."