Precious Metals

U.S. Mint's bullion coin sales remain in a slump

Sales of American Eagle silver bullion coins by the U.S. Mint have gotten off to a slow start during the first two months of 2018.

Images courtesy of SilverTowne.

Bullion coin sales from the United States Mint continue on a downward slide begun in 2016, with 2018 sales of American Eagle silver coins for the first two months of the year 34 percent below the same period of 2017.

The Mint reported sales of 3,235,000 American Eagle silver dollars to its authorized purchasers in January 2018 and 942,500 pieces in February, compared with 5,127,500 and 1,215,000 coins, respectively, sold in the same two months in 2017.

The impact of the sales decline in 2018 is even greater when one considers that for the whole of 2017, the sales of 18,065,500 American Eagle silver bullion coins represented a 52 percent decrease from the 37,701,500 coins recorded sold in 2016.

Sales for 2018 American Eagle silver and gold bullion coins and American Buffalo gold bullion coins began Jan. 8. 

Sales of 2018 American Eagle 1-ounce platinum bullion coins began Feb. 12. The initial allocation of 20,000 coins sold out, with no commitment from the Mint that additional coins would be made available. The Mint also sold 20,000 platinum coins in 2017, although collector and investment demand would have absorbed more.

Gold bullion coins

The total number of ounces of gold American Eagles sold during the first two months of 2018, 64,000, is nearly 56 percent below the same period in 2017, when the total reached 145,000 ounces.

For January and February combined, sales reached 41,000 ounces in 1-ounce coins, 8,000 ounces in half ounce coins (16,000 coins, all in January), 6,500 ounces in quarter-ounce coins (26,000 coins, all in January), and 8,500 ounces in tenth-ounce coins (85,000 coins).

These totals contrast with 107,500 ounces in 1-ounce gold American Eagles sold, combined, in January and February of 2017, 12,000 ounces in half-ounce coins (24,000 coins) over the two-month period, 10,000 ounces in quarter-ounce coins (40,000 coins), and 15,500 ounces in tenth-ounce coins (155,000 coins).

In the U.S. Mint’s other gold bullion coin program, demand for American Buffalo gold 1-ounce bullion coins in 2018 has also dropped from 2017 levels, with 26,500 coins sold during the first two months of 2018 compared with 47,000 coins during the first two months of 2017.

5-ounce silver coins

The mintages for the 5-ounce .999 fine silver versions of the America the Beautiful quarter dollars are set with a maximum output combined for the bullion issue and the Uncirculated version, which bears the P Mint mark of the Philadelphia Mint where both versions are struck.

So far in 2018, the U.S. Mint has offered the bullion version for only the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore 5-ounce silver coin, with just 20,000 coins recorded sold.

Final sales for the five 5-ounce bullion coins in 2017 reached a combined 148,400 coins.

The 2017 total comprises 35,000 Effigy Mounds National Monument coins sold, 20,000 each of the Frederick Douglass National Historic site and Ozark National Scenic Riverways coins, 40,000 of the Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty National Monument) coins, and 33,400 of the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park coins.

The U.S. Mint does not sell its bullion coins directly to the public. The coins are sold through several vetted authorized purchasers who buy the coins based on the closing London PM spot price of the respective precious metal on a given day, plus a small premium. The coins may then be resold to the public and other dealers for a small markup. The authorized purchasers conduct a two-way market in the bullion issues, both buying and selling the coins, while the Mint does not buy back any of the strictly bullion coins it sells. 

Many government bullion coin programs operate this way. 

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