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Silver medal vs. coin contest tomorrow

Seldom do we have the opportunity to watch collector preferences for coins versus medals expressed in such a clear competition as that which begins tomorrow when the 2011 proof silver American Eagle coin goes on sale at the U.S. Mint website.

This follows by just 10 days the beginning of sales for the 9/11 Memorial medal.

It has been my experience that when given the choice, collectors always choose coins over medals by a large margin.

How large?

Rather than guess, let’s just watch sales unfold.

The proof silver Eagle and the medal share the same silver planchet and their price is a virtually identical $59.95 for the coin and $56.95 for the medal. If anything, a higher price should discourage some people from buying the coin and steer them to the medal.

I don’t think three bucks will matter in this instance.

Sales of the medal during the first week since sales began June 20 are already showing signs of slowing down dramatically. During the first two days of sales, buyers snapped up 35,036 medals. During the next five days they bought just 15,962 medals.

The full week’s total then is 50,998 medals.

I expect the first week of Eagle sales to be several multiples of medal sales. The exact number when we come to know it will tell us the current state of collector preferences.

Since the Mint did not start medal sales on the same date as Eagle sales, it did not make collectors directly choose between the two. That, I would think, actually gives a bit of a boost to medal demand as collectors don’t have the opportunity to choose an alternative during those first 10 days of medal sales.

Does any of this matter?

It does.

It tends to explain why American Eagle silver bullion coins are higher priced than other forms of silver bullion.

Collector preferences have an impact on values. This sales comparison will be a demonstration of it.