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Gold proof Eagles in the way?

I need to post tomorrow’s blog early because I will be driving down to the Chicago International Coin Fair during my usual posting time.

Not to worry.

The Mint has given me a timely bit of news to focus on today.

On April 21, sales of the 2011 proof gold America Eagle coins will begin at noon Eastern Standard Time.

Mintage limits have been pushed up a tad for some of the sales options.

Combined with higher prices, will this year’s coins sell out or fall short as the 2010 proofs did?

I think sales will fall short.

See what you think.

For the one-ounce coin, which sold out at 25,000 in 2010, the Mint will sell up to 30,000 2011 pieces.

For the half-ounce coin, where buyers snapped up just two-thirds of the available 15,000 2010 proofs, the Mint will again offer 15,000 2011 coins. Will interest stop at 10,000 again, or will it even reach 10,000 this year?

The ceiling for the proof quarter-ounce gold Eagle is once again 16,000. Last year collectors bought just 10,000 of these.

For the tenth-ounce proof gold Eagle, the mint has moved up the number is will make available to 30,000 as opposed to last year’s 27,000. Buyers, though, took only 20,000 of the 2010 tenth-ounce proofs.

The four-coin set, which contains 1.85 ounces of gold worth $2,720 has a maximum number available of 40,000 for the 2011 coins. That is up by 1,000 sets from last year. Even so, last year’s four-coin did not sell out. An even 35,000 were sold.

Sales prices have not yet been set, but you know they will be higher than the gold value.

I sense no building enthusiasm for these coins. Higher prices for gold are beginning to inhibit rather than encourage new buyers of proofs.

Had the 2011 proof gold American Eagles been offered a week earlier, there probably would have been significant demand from custodians of Individual Retirement Accounts, but that need seems less urgent when the tax deadline for the 2010 year is April 18.

And most importantly, these gold coins are not made of silver. Buyers at the moment seem particularly focused on the much cheaper white metal generally and the 2010 Hot Springs America the Beautiful 5-ounce uncirculated collector coins specifically, which become available April 28.

Why buy dull gold when the silver lottery beckons?

To me, this adds up to proof gold sales results similar to last year’s but probably less.