2011 officially holds the record as the best year ever for American Eagle Silver bullion coins, according to United States Mint sales figures.
American Silver Eagle year-to-date sales hit 34,673,500 Thursday, October 6, blasting past the annual record of 34,662,500 achieved in 2010. The coins soared another 400,000 Friday, rising to 35,073,500 for the year.
Lower silver prices have been a factor in influencing the large number of bullion coins purchased in the last two weeks. The precious metal nose-dived during the third week in September, plummeting more than $10 an ounce to below the level it had maintained throughout most of the summer. Until then, September Silver Eagle sales had been sluggish. They immediately took off. September ended as the second best month ever for the series with the United States Mint selling 4,460,500.
The momentum has spilled over into October, as illustrated by 1,662,000 purchased in the first seven days. And telling, the London Fix for silver averaged $30.82 an ounce this week, which is down from the $41.81 average during the first full week of September when sales were particularly slow (only 175,000 were sold in the first eight days).
American Silver Eagle bullion coins have been hot the last few years. With the shaky economy, demand began to skyrocket in 2008 and has remained high ever since. The following table listing the last five years of sales demonstrates.
Sales of American Silver Eagles in Years 2007-2011
|2011 (as of October 7)||35,073,500|
Volatile silver prices account for several surges in the number of American Silver Eagle coins sold. When precious metals rise and then stumble, Silver Eagle demand has tended to rally. But clearly, bullion coins have tracked gains in silver. That is evident when comparing the sales by year (shown above) to the rise in silver (shown below).
Average Annual Price of Silver on the London Fix
|2011 (as of October 6)||$36.09|
*Per Kitco Metal Inc’s past historical London Fix figures.
The number of bullion Silver Eagles sold in 2011 has broken many month-to-month records as well. The bolded months in table below are for record months that were the "best ever" in the series’ history. That history dates back to November 1986.
2011 Monthly Sales of American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins
|October (as of October 7)||1,662,000|
The United States Mint has not always been able to keep up with demand. To change that, one of the big improvements made by the Mint was working with suppliers to increase the number of silver planchets used in producing Silver Eagles. Another significant step was adding another facility to strike the coins. At the end of May 2011, the mint facility in San Francisco began striking bullion Silver Eagles in addition to the facility at West Point. West Point had been handling the responsibility exclusively for more than a decade. The changes have paid off with better inventory.
Every American Eagle Silver coin is struck from .999 fine silver and shares the same obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) designs. Three versions are currently available. One is for investors, the bullion coins, and the other two are for collectors. Key differences include the finish and the mint mark. Bullion coins lack a special finish and a mint mark. The numismatic versions have either a proof or uncirculated finish and bear a West Point "W" mint mark.