US Coins

2014 Top 10 Stories: U.S. Mint breaks silver bullion sales record

More U.S. Mint American Eagle silver bullion coins were sold during 2014 than any other year on record.

Images courtesy of U.S. Mint

Editor's note: The Top 10 Stories of 2014 have been judged by Coin World staff to be the most impactful and memorable numismatic stories of the past year. They are not ranked in any particular order.

See all of the Top 10 Stories of 2014

For U.S. Mint silver bullion sales, 2014 was a second straight milestone year. 

The United States Mint sold a record 44,006,000 American Eagle 1-ounce, .999 fine silver bullion coins in 2014, topping the previous all-time high of 42,675,000 coins set in 2013. 

Two times during 2014, monthly sales totals exceeded 5 million coins. In March, 5,354,000 coins were sold, and 5,790,000 were sold in October.

The last day of September and first day of October were especially notable silver sales days. On Sept. 30, 766,000 American Eagle silver bullion coins were sold, followed by 1.15 million on Oct. 1, as the price of silver dropped to just over $17 per troy ounce.

About a month later, on Nov. 5, the Mint announced it had exhausted its supply of silver American Eagles and had to temporarily halt sales. After nearly two weeks spent replenishing inventory, sales of the coins resumed Nov. 17.

Bullion coins struck by the U.S. Mint are not sold directly to the public. The coins are sold to a network of authorized purchasers, priced at the day’s closing London PM silver spot value plus a small premium per coin.

These authorized purchasers sell the coins to collectors, investors and other dealers.

Dillon Gage is one of the authorized purchasers. That company’s president, Terry Hanlon, said after the sales record was set that the low value of silver (which fell further, to below $16 per ounce in mid-December) is certainly a big reason for the spike in demand. But he also credited the wide reach of the Internet and the worldwide exposure of the American Eagle as factors.

“There’s a definite comfort level there,” Hanlon said. 

David Hendrickson, president of SilverTowne, another authorized purchaser, agreed and tacked on another reason.

“I think people are nervous about the economy,” Hendrickson said. “They’re nervous about the future whether it be the U.S. dollar inflation, health care, just the overall economy.”

Hendrickson doesn’t see the demand for silver subsiding in 2015.

“I think the silver market is going to get bigger,” he said. “I don’t see an end to it right now.”

A year’s American Eagle sales number is not the same as that year’s mintage number. 

While mintage numbers apply to the number of that year’s issue that were struck, sales refers to all coins purchased in a calendar year, regardless of issue. 

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