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Mint keeps

Production of 2009 gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins will continue until the end of the calendar year, the Mint said in a letter to its authorized distributors Nov. 20.

This is a break with past practice and provides yet more evidence of the unusual steps the Mint has been taking to attempt to meet unprecedented demand for the American Eagle bullion coins from investors this year.

Normally at this time of year the Mint announces that it is changing over to produce American Eagle coins for the next year and that supplies of the current year would be run down.

However, there are little to no 2009 supplies to run down, leaving the Mint in a predicament.

Already the Mint has sold 1,176,000 2009 one-ounce gold American Eagles and 25,716,500 of the 2009 silver. If present trends hold, sales through the end of the year would take those numbers up to approximately 1.3 million gold American Eagles and 28 million silver.

Demand, of course, could exceed the Mint’s ability to supply the market as occurred in 2008, and come Jan. 1, 2010, the Mint’s cupboard of 2010 coins will be bare.

The Mint says it will not begin production of 2010 Eagle coins until the new year begins. This leaves it vulnerable to the usual pattern of higher seasonal demand in January as collectors jump in wanting examples of the new date.

“Whether special procedures will be in place has yet to be determined primarily because demand for the remainder of 2009 will need to be assessed.,” the Mint replied to a question from Numismatic News as to how it might meet Eagle demand when 2010 begins.

The Mint says it expects it will be able to strike 2010 American Eagles at roughly the same rate it maintained in 2009.

“Current production rates are dependent on the supply of blanks. We anticipate if current demand rates for gold and silver one-ounce bullion coins continues, 2010 availability will be similar to 2009,” a Mint spokesman said in an e-mail.

In 2009, supply of the coins was rationed (allocated) until June.

And as was the case in 2009, availability of Buffalo gold coins and fractional gold American Eagles will depend on the Mint’s ability to meet the demand for one-ounce gold and silver American Eagles.

Buffalo coins became available this year in October and fractional American Eagles were scheduled to begin Dec. 3.

For 2010, In the words of the Mint, “fractional and Buffalo bullion on sale dates have not yet been determined.”

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