The wait for a new record number of 2014 silver Eagle sales that I mentioned yesterday lasted only until the Mint posted its most recent sales figures.
The current number is 42,864,000.
Next week the Mint expects to run out of coins completely, so we are fairly close to a final silver Eagle number for the year.
Do records matter?
They don’t if all we are wondering about is whether a final number is 43.5 million or 44 million. The order of magnitude is the same. The impact on the market is not noticeably different. And discussing decimal points usually makes people’s eyes glaze over.
On the other hand, records do matter, but it is more psychological than practical.
Some Eagle buyers take great comfort in the knowledge that others are making the same purchases.
This might be a bit peculiar considering that many collectors are solitary figures who don’t belong to any organization, attend any club meetings, go to shows, or even communicate with other collectors.
However, they do monitor events closely enough to know what the next hot item is.
If something looks like it will be hot, they want in.
Headlines proclaiming record demand and output validates their decision to buy.
Most Eagle buyers are not collectors, so we cannot simply assume their profile is identical, but because their behavior so closely mimics collector behavior perhaps there is no practical difference.
Over the long term, successful results are much more private.
Successful buyers as measured by profits usually go against the crowd.
I remember running into a longtime hobby acquaintance at the 2011 Central States convention.
Silver was $48 an ounce.
There was a clamor on the bourse floor.
$100 seemed to be just a short time away.
Was he buying?
No. Not at all.
He told me he was there expressly to sell off some silver that he had been holding.
Good call on his part.
His wisdom, of course, was not in the headlines of the day, and it only became clear later as the price of the metal plunged.
Acting independently of headlines and investment forecasts is a trait we all can benefit from by cultivating it.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."