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Proof Eagles compete with 'Eagle has landed'

Have proof silver American Eagles lost that old pizzazz?

We will find out today.

The 2019-W proof will go on sale at noon Eastern time.

Price is $55.95. There is no mintage limit.

With silver at $15.70 a troy ounce, the Mint’s asking price is three and half times melt value.

Are collectors making that calculation before placing their orders?


Sales are sagging for some reason.

Numbers have come down from a recent sales peak of nearly one million coins in 2011.

Coincidentally, the price of silver peaked at $48 in that very year.

The all-time high proof mintage was the very first one back in 1986.

Sales then were 1,446,778.

Issue price was $21. Silver cost roughly a third as much 33 years ago.

Sales in the last three years are fractions of the 1986 total.

The 2016-W 30th anniversary issue with special edge lettering saw collectors buy 595,854.

For the 2017-W, sales dropped almost 35 percent to 390,207.

An anniversary apparently increases appeal.

A further decline of 12.7 percent has been registered by the 2018-W. Its current total stands at 340,767, but buyers can still order it directly from the Mint.

Except for limited-mintage rarities, we seem to be breaking new ground to the downside at 340,767.

Making this coin available at the beginning of the year is good marketing by the Mint.

Competition this year is tough, though.

The Apollo 11 commemoratives follow close behind on Jan. 24.

Collectors might be inclined to save their money for what look to be likely sellouts of the new cupped coins.

They are not the first cupped U.S. coins.

The baseball issues of 2014 have that honor, but many collectors probably remember watching live TV coverage of the moon landing. They will happily recall the event by splurging on the commemoratives.

What can a proof silver Eagle offer in comparison?

On the other hand, we are probably reduced to the bedrock collectors of proof Eagles at the 340,000 level.

Imagine having been able to assemble a Morgan dollar set one by one 1878-1904 and 1921.

Collecting proof Eagles is a bit like this.

If enough collectors think this way, sales of the proof 2019-W Eagle might bounce back.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."