Precious Metals

Top 10 Stories of 2015 American Eagle silver sales

2015 was a record year for silver American Eagle sales, with 2016, the 30th anniversary for the series, already shaping up to possibly break that record.

Original images courtesy of APMEX.

2015 was the year of the silver American Eagle, with the U.S. Mint selling more of the 1-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins than in any other calendar year since the series was introduced in November 1986.

Sales totaled 47 million coins, eclipsing the previous record of 44,006,000 recorded in 2014.

The nation’s coin producer closed out its sales for 2015-dated coins on Dec. 15, a day after the West Point Mint was scheduled to begin production of 2016 coins.

2016 is already shaping up for the possibility of being another record sales year, since it is the 30th anniversary of the series and since the market for investment silver remains strong.

The U.S. Mint’s authorized purchasers approved to buy the silver bullion coins, as well as secondary market dealers, are already accepting orders for 2016 coins, even though the Mint won’t be selling them until Jan. 11.

The Mint will have almost a month to build its inventory of 2016 coins, while wrestling with distribution obstacles via weekly allocations.

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Weekly allocations (limitations on the number of coins made available) of silver American Eagles by the Mint during 2015 probably restricted the calendar year sales from being driven considerably higher than 47 million coins.

With a depressed silver price staying below $16 per troy ounce for most of the year and strong investment demand, there is no doubt the Mint could have sold more coins. The Mint just couldn’t deliver sufficient struck product because of the worldwide competition for the necessary planchets.

The Mint’s contracted vendors supplying the planchets were trying to balance satisfying the needs of their commercial customers like the U.S. Mint while also marketing struck products bearing their own hallmarks.

The scenario is not likely to change significantly in 2016.

Secondary market premiums above silver’s spot price were driven up several dollars per coin in 2015 as dealers tried to fill customer orders, often waiting weeks for physical delivery.

The Mint’s authorized purchasers buy the American Eagle silver bullion coins at the closing London PM spot price per troy ounce on a given day plus a premium of $2 per coin, with minimum orders of 25,000 coins.

The coins are then resold to other dealers, investors and collectors, with small markups added at each level in the sales chain.

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