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Silver Eagle coins handily beat medals

Any guesses before I reveal how strong the collector preference for coins versus medals is as demonstrated by sales of 2011 proof silver American Eagles and 911 medals?

Drum roll, please.

Five days after sales began, the Mint had sold 367,623 proof silver American Eagles.

Medal sales reached 59,614.

Or in other words, as of July 5 numbers, for every 6.17 coins purchased, collectors bought 1 medal.

Medals have been offered since June 20. The silver proof Eagles went on sale June 30.

No contest. The Eagles win.

The only question now is how many of the 2 million blanks that the Mint put in the pipeline for possible medal use will end up in the American Eagle bullion coin program, where demand is still very strong.

Medals even have two mintmarks to help goose demand. West Point and Philadelphia Mints are both striking them. Only West Point is striking the proof Eagle.

Of course, it could be worse for the medals. If the 911 medal was not identical in every way to the weight and fineness of the Eagle, sales would probably be far lower. If they had been made of bronze, coin collectors probably wouldn’t have traded their baseball cards for one.

Silver does have appeal, even when in medallic form.

What’s next?

Let’s see how fast the 2011 proof silver American Eagles reach last year’s sales total of 860,000.

When do you think it will happen?