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Platinum's back

What’s the Mint selling today? That question goes through my mind most days, especially when precious metals hit new highs.

Word came yesterday that proof and uncirculated platinum American Eagles were back on sale. The “W” uncirculated pieces had been off sale for about a month. The proofs were off sale for a much shorter period of time, though I did not keep track of the duration.

Naturally, prices were raised. The price for the one-ounce platinum proof American Eagle went from $1,599.95 to $1,740.95. That is up 8.8 percent, which doesn’t strike me as a very large number considering the headlines we have been seeing in recent weeks about new record highs. I know those headlines are primarily focused on gold, but people generally lump the metals together. If one is doing well, it is assumed the others are also.

The uncirculated “W” platinum American Eagle ounce went from a $1,489.95 price to $1,630.95, which works out to an increase of 9.5 percent.

The fractional sizes had price increases of similar magnitude.

At this point in time, the uncirculated “W” gold American Eagle coins remain off sale. The proofs are on sale.

Only silver has sailed serenely on. Mark-ups for silver coins are much higher, so the Mint has a wider price cushion for fluctuations. Also, it wasn’t until yesterday that silver recaptured the high ground it had first reached in May 2006. Silver bullion went through the $15 barrier to close at $15.327 a troy ounce.

It is silver’s price that has the greatest impact on the greatest number of collectors. The proof silver American Eagle is priced at $29.95, which is almost double bullion value and the “W” uncirculated is $21.95, leaving a pricing cushion of more than $6. That should carry the coins at least to the end of the year.

What coins will the Mint be selling tomorrow? We’ll have to wait to find out, but holiday gift givers might want to act now and avoid the potential frustration of not being able to buy something at a future date.