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Gold pinch reduces numbers

Are collectors experiencing budget fatigue when it comes to buying gold coins, or have they simply given up believing that higher bullion prices are just around the corner?

Either answer can explain the Mint’s decision to cut the number of potential 2012 proof Eagles sold as compared its 2011 maximums.

And perhaps it is a little of both. Gold is expensive compared to average collector income and sooner or later collectors return to basing their purchase decisions on their incomes.

The Mint recognized this by its new maximums for 2012 proofs.

The reductions for the 2012 issues, which are to go on sale April 19, range from 33 percent for the individual half ounce coin to 17 percent for the individual tenth-ounce gold piece.

Target mintage number for the 1-ounce proof will not be cut back at all.

New mintage numbers basically track sales results of the 2011 issues.

The maximum mintage for the 1-ounce coin remains at 30,000 in 2012. The 2011 issue sold out its 30,000 allotment.

The half-ounce coin 2012 mintage figure drops to 10,000 from 15,000 in 2011. Sales of the 2011 piece came in at just over 8,000.

A reduction to 12,000 quarter-ounce coins is planned from the 2011 maximum of 16,000. Sales of the 2011 ended at just over 10,000 coins.

The tenth-ounce proof mintage in 2012 will be 25,000, down from 30,000 in 2011. Sales so far of the 2011 issue are almost 24,000 coins.

Four-coin sets will be reduced to 30,000 in 2012 from 40,000 in 2011. The set is still being sold but has not yet reach halfway to a sellout. The latest number is approximately 18,000.

To arrive at the maximum possible mintage for each coin in 2012, the individual coin limit must be added to the set limit.

Therefore, if there is a complete sellout of the 2012 proofs, there would be 60,000 1-ounce coins, 40,000 half-ounce coins, 42,000 quarter-ounce coins and 55,000 tenth ounce coins.

Prices are not available yet, but even if gold stays fairly stable while the coins are offered, a hypothetical sellout would represent a chunk of money that might be larger than collectors are currently willing to pay.

And by the way, today is the last day for 50 percent savings on