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Time to buy Buffalo, or not?

The U.S. Mint has cut the maximum possible mintage for the proof 2007 Buffalo one-ounce gold piece from last year’s 300,000 to 200,000. It will go on sale to collectors in just two days on Wednesday, May 23.

Price this year will be $825.95, up $25.95 from the $800 price of the 2006.

Will the lower mintage ceiling induce more hobbyists to buy than otherwise? I assume the Mint thinks the answer to the question is yes.

Second years of issue of virtually anything usually disappoint. The novelty is gone. The enthusiasm is gone. Most importantly, the collectors doing the buying may notice that their money is gone. After all, an $800 item is relatively expensive. Most Numismatic News readers can afford it – once – but if reader surveys are to be believed, that one coin alone takes up a significant chunk of the average collector’s buying funds. Unless this average collector wants to permanently change his collecting habits, he will most likely revert to the habits of prior years.

Also, many collectors are type collectors. Once they own the type, there is no further need to add another of the same design to their collections.

Potentially pushing collectors to buy are their thoughts about the gold market itself. Gold has been in a nice uptrend since 2001. Many think it will continue. If this is so, it will be better to buy a gold coin now and not wait because it might be more expensive next year or the year after.

I am already on record in print that I think the purchase total for this year’s Buffalo coin will be 75,000. That is quite a bit lower than the 300,000-coin ceiling of 2006 and the 252,200 actually sold.

Am I out on a limb? Perhaps. One factor that I look at as extremely important is the gross dollars the Mint is asking the hobby to put out. If all 200,000 of the new Buffalo coins would sell, that takes $165,190,000 out of collector hands and puts it into government hands. That’s more than the hobby can handle.

Can I be wrong? Sure. There are no accurate numbers anywhere as to just how much money collectors will spend in a year. This is my sense of things. Starting Wednesday, we will see.