Precious Metals

San Francisco Mint to strike silver bullion

Because of the continued unprecedented demand for American Eagle silver bullion coins and an increased numismatic production load at the West Point Mint, some American Eagle production is being shifted to the San Francisco Mint.

Tom Jurkowsky, director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Information, confirmed March 23 that trial strikes are currently being produced at the San Francisco Mint, with full-scale, temporary production to begin sometime in May.

The trial strikes are being produced to ensure that the quality of the American Eagle silver bullion coins struck at the San Francisco Mint replicate the quality of those produced at the West Point Mint, according to Jurkowsky.

The 2011 production will be the first time in more than a decade that American Eagle silver bullion coins will be produced at both the West Point and the San Francisco Mints. American Eagle silver bullion coins were produced at both facilities from 1989 through 2000 inclusive. All American Eagle silver bullion coin production was moved strictly to the West Point Mint in 2001.

The bullion coins do not bear the Mint mark of the facility where the coins were struck.

The San Francisco Mint’s inclusion in American Eagle silver bullion coin production in 2011 is necessary in part because Mint officials anticipate sales in 2011 being from 28 percent to nearly 43 percent higher than the record 2010 sales of 34,662,500 silver bullion coins. Other contributing factors to the decision are production, at the West Point Mint, of Proof versions of both the 2011 U.S. Army and 2011 Medal of Honor gold $5 half eagles, and of up to 2 million National September 11th Memorial and Museum 1-ounce, .999 fine silver medals authorized under Public Law 111-221.

“Demand for silver bullion remains at unprecedented levels,” Jurkowsky said.

“If it continues at the rate we have seen over the last two months, it could reach a level of between 45 million and 50 million coins in calendar year 2011. The Mint at West Point has done a fantastic job in meeting demand over the last several years and as we made plans for calendar 2011 production, we saw that the legislation in effect for 2011 added additional products to the West Point portfolio (the 9/11 Medal and both the Army and Medal of Honor commemorative coins),” Jurkowsky said.

“So our plan was to see how silver demand played out in the first quarter of calendar year 2011, knowing that we had press capacity available at San Francisco if needed.”

Because the San Francisco Mint is completing its production of coins for 2011 sets containing Proof coins, “there is a window of opportunity to have San Francisco produce some silver bullion before 2012 production begins in late summer 2011, so we are conducting silver bullion trial strikes at San Francisco now,” Jurkowsky said. “Production would include using the same dies, the same methods and same packaging [as used at the West Point Mint]. We do not expect a visible difference between the two coins.

Jurkowsky continued: “If still warranted, we plan to begin production of up to a few hundred thousand per week in San Francisco in late May to early June, running through the summer. Our authorized purchasers have expressed interest in [picking up the coins at a San Francisco location], but the overall allocation methodology will be done weekly and include West Point volumes in the weekly allocation calculation.

“There are several logistical issues to resolve before any final decisions are made to pursue this initiative.

“Simply stepping back, we feel that exploring use of another facility is good management and may be another way to better meet the needs of our customers,” he said. ¦

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