On Dec. 9 the U.S. Mint will sell the final batch of 2013-dated silver American Eagles to its network of Authorized Purchasers.
From that point, there will be a gap in availability of bullion silver coins until the 2014 pieces are ready on Jan. 13, 2014.
What can we possibly find to talk write about, talk about and think about in the meantime?
Of course, we will soon get a precise figure as to how many of the 2013 coins were sold. It will be entered into the record books.
Then we can consider whether sales in 2014 will exceed the number achieved in 2013.
We can speculate about the level of demand that will materialize in the month of January.
Coin collectors and investors have become such a front-end loaded bunch that I sometimes think that in future years all sales of silver American Eagle coins will occur in the month of January alone and the Mint will simply spend that other 11 months stockpiling a supply of coins for use in that single sales month.
Perhaps we could create a series of monthly dies to help the grading services along.
Coins struck in January of the year will have a little numeral “1” engraved somewhere unobtrusive on the reverse (perhaps where the old mintmark was placed on Walking Liberty half dollars).
February coins would have a little “2,” March a “3” and so forth through 12.
No more will there be any disputes about what constitutes an early strike. It won’t matter what dates are stamped on the box. If the coin has a “1” on it, it achieves the favorably treated first strike status.
Of course, if the Mint does that, will it get a cut? Would prices of January coins be raised by $1 or $2 a coin to give the Mint the benefit of its first strikes?
Or will the Mint go directly to grading services to get the coins graded and slabbed and then sell the slabbed coins itself?
Well, however far-fetched any of these ideas are, we will have almost a full month worth of time to consider them. Then in January we can actually get back to looking at actual sales figures.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."