Collectors and investors faced some uncertainty about the
availability of the coins in the U.S. Mint’s two silver bullion
programs in mid- and late January.
Both the American Eagle 1-ounce and America the Beautiful 5-ounce
bullion coin programs were affected.
United States Mint officials suspended sales of 2013 American
Eagle 1-ounce silver bullion coins to its authorized purchasers Jan.
17 until exhausted inventories are replenished.
Jack A. Szczerban, branch chief of the U.S. Mint’s Precious Metals
Group, informed the authorized purchasers that the Mint was
temporarily sold out of the .999 fine silver bullion coins. He said
sales would resume on or about the week of Jan. 28, and then via an
The Mint also removed tentative release dates on its website at www.usmint.gov for Uncirculated
2013-P America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver quarter dollars. Mint
officials said they removed the dates while they work to solidify
specific release dates and establish mintage levels.
American Eagle program
At the time of Szczerban’s Jan. 17 announcement suspending
American Eagle silver bullion coin sales, the U.S. Mint had already
recorded sales of 6,007,000 of the coins. Production of the 2013
silver American Eagles began at both the West Point Mint and San
Francisco Mint right after Thanksgiving.
Authorized purchasers were able to place orders for the 2013
American Eagle silver bullion coins for the first time beginning Jan.
7. American Eagle and American Buffalo gold bullion coins went on sale
to authorized purchasers Jan. 2.
The month’s sales of 6,007,000 American Eagle silver bullion coins
make January the third highest sales month since program sales were
inaugurated in November 1986.
The highest silver American Eagle sales month recorded is January
2011 with 6,422,000 coins sold, followed by January 2012 with
2011 was the banner year for American Eagle silver bullion coins
sales, with 39,868,500 coins reported sold. The lowest sales year was
1996, with 3,466,000 coins recorded sold.
For the past several years, sales of American Eagle and American
Buffalo bullion coins to authorized purchasers have not begun until
after Jan. 1 of the year dated on the coin.
Before that, authorized purchasers were often afforded the
opportunity to place orders during the latter half of December of the
previous year, with delivery of the coins after Jan. 1. Those sales
were recorded for December.
America the Beautiful program
White said the U.S. Mint has experienced no production problems or
planchet delays involving the America the Beautiful 5-ounce silver coins.
Production has already begun for the 2013 bullion and 2013-P
Uncirculated collector versions of the White Mountain National Forest
(N.H.) and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (Ohio)
5-ounce silver coins, White said.
Mintage levels for the bullion and Uncirculated numismatic
versions still have to be determined, White said.
The early release by the U.S. Mint of its 2013 product schedule in
December “was part of a continued effort to give our customers as much
information as possible to make their purchasing decisions throughout
the year,” White said.
White noted the December announcement also advised customers and
potential customers that the schedule could change without notice, and
would be also updated when release dates for products to be offered
later are established.
“In releasing the product schedule as well in advance as possible,
we knew that pricing and date changes for some products would
inevitably occur, as the dates did regarding the 2013 America the
Beautiful Five-Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins,” White said. “We look
forward to announcing the revised dates on the product schedule as
soon as possible once they are determined.
“We regret any inconvenience this date change may cause our valued
customers who purchase America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated
Coins,” White said.
The 5-ounce bullion coins are struck on a dedicated press at the
Philadelphia Mint using 3-inch planchets as received from the Mint’s
outside supplier. The blanks have been upset on the rim, annealed
(softened through heat treatment) and sonically cleaned.
The ultrasonic cleaning to the planchets helps eliminate buildup
of debris on the coinage dies that would require a halt in production
for cleaning or replacement of dies.
The Uncirculated collector versions, struck on the same planchets
as the bullion versions, are subjected to a post-strike process. The
Uncirculated numismatic versions undergo a “vapor blasting” technique
after striking, resulting in a finish replicating that used on 3-inch
bronze Mint medals.
The bullion version of the 5-ounce coin bears no Mint mark. The
Uncirculated strikes bear the P Mint mark. ■