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Silver bullion coins they're not

Is the America the Beautiful 5-ounce bullion coin really a bullion coin?

Current sales numbers make it look like just another collector coin.

So far only 97,200 5-ounce coins have been sold with the 2012 date.

This breaks down fairly evenly among the designs, which to me seems to indicate that they are just another collector coin series with hobbyists acquiring one of each design as they are issued.

Presently, the El Yunque stands at sales of 19,900, Chaco at 20,000, Acadia at 22,300, Hawaii at 20,000 and Denali at 15,000.

These numbers are down drastically from the 2011 designs. The first two of those, Gettysburg and Glacier had sales of 126,700 each. Then the sales slide set in.

Olympic is 85,900, Vicksburg 39,500 and Chickasaw 29,700.

Yet as sharp as these drops in the sales of 2011 pieces were, all of the 2011 designs registered higher sales numbers than any of the 2012 pieces. This is a typical collector coin sales pattern as series go on and on.

A true bullion coin, the 1-ounce silver American Eagle, has sales so far this year of 31,143,500 coins.

The 2012 5-ounce coins have moved just 1.6 percent of that quantity of silver, or 408,500 troy ounces sold in the form of the 97,200 2012 5-ounce coins.

Since there is no objective criteria set by Congress to assess whether the program is a success or failure, it simply will continue on as the adjunct it is to the America the Beautiful quarter series.

The reality is that no matter what Congress called it, it is not bullion coin.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."