It is no longer news that output levels of silver American Eagle bullion coins are at 10-year lows. It was not so long ago that production was setting records.
The 2015 number of 47 million pieces was a huge deal when it occurred. The Mint had spent years ramping up production capacity. Then it was basically able to sell every coin it made.
Demand for the bullion silver Eagle coin in 2009 was at such a surprising level that the Mint had to skip making the proof version for collectors. Some hobbyists are still steamed about the gap in their sets created by this.
That output level at 30,459,000 was just two-thirds of what was sold in 2015.
Nowadays the Mint is all dressed up with its fine new silver Eagle capacity but has much less reason to use it.
Market demand since the 2015 high has been declining. When I prepared the Mint Statistics pages this week, it showed that only 50,000 silver American Eagle bullion coins had been sold in the first third of the month of May. 50,000?
For the entire year thus far, only 6,057,500 silver Eagle bullion coins have been sold to the Mint’s distributors.
Perhaps now the Mint will be receptive to collector requests for an identifying mintmark on silver Eagles. Most are made in West Point, yet the bullion coin has no mintmark on it.
Some have been made in San Francisco, yet none had the “S” mintmark on it. In other years, Philadelphia has made some, yet you cannot find a “P” mintmark on a bullion coin.
Now is the time to add these mintmarks. It will give collectors something new to collect. They won’t have to chase delivery papers and affidavits, or grading labels, to tell them that a coin without a mintmark is in fact made at this mint or that. Consider adding mintmarks as a truth-in-labeling step.
Nowadays, putting a mintmark on the coin is an excuse to jack up the price and demand collectors pay it, whether as proofs or burnished uncirculated.
In not too many weeks, the Mint will give us another “S” version of the proof silver American Eagle. The “W” proof came out at the beginning of the year.
Give collectors these mintmarks on coins they can buy at bullion value, no extra premium added. It will be the 21st century version of circulation finds.
A mintmark was never supposed to be something you paid extra for.
Doing this now, while the Mint has extra striking capacity available, won’t cause a production problem. It could very easily lead to sales of more silver American Eagle bullion coins than otherwise would be the case. I bet the Mint’s Authorized Distributors would favor this.
Collectors are less fickle than bullion investors. They want to be loyal to the Mint, but they do not want to be noticed only when the Mint needs to squeeze them for more cash.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.
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