United States Mint American Eagle silver bullion coins made history today, topping 400 million in all-time sales and setting a new annual sales record.
Introduced in 1986, demand for the 99.9% pure silver coins has been unprecedented in recent years. Sales sharply started ratcheting up in 2008 and eventually reached levels where demand outstripped supply.
In addition to the U.S. Mint at West Point, in 2011 the U.S. Mint at San Francisco started striking American Silver Eagles to lift bullion coin production. The Mint also implemented an allocation system that limited how many coins it would sell to its authorized purchasers. Today, while the Mint has the production capability to meet demand it cannot always get enough silver blanks to make the coins. Blanks are the round metal discs that get fed into coining presses. Stamped under tons of pressure between dies bearing designs, they become coins. (See how the West Point Mint makes Silver Eagles.)
New Annual Sales Record
Even with rationing, American Silver Eagle sales in 2013 reached an annual record of 42,675,000 coins. Today, with ordering limits still in place for much of the year, 2014 sales scored a new record for a year at 42,864,000 coins. Further, all-time sales hit 400,427,000 coins — 60.5% of that total is from the last seven years alone.
This year’s annual record cannot climb too much higher. The supply of Silver Eagles will be shut off for about three weeks. On Friday, the U.S. Mint told it authorized purchasers that it was transitioning production from 2014-dated coins to 2015, and that it expects to have "enough coins to offer allocations through the week of December 15th." The Mint also said it would begin accepting orders for 2015-dated American Silver Eagles on Monday, January 12, 2015. Ordering will remain limited under the Mint’s allocation system.
American Eagle silver bullion coins are not sold by the United States Mint to the public, unlike collector versions that carry mint marks and special finishes. They are sold in bulk to U.S. Mint "Authorized Purchasers" who consist of major coin and precious metals dealers, brokerage companies, and other participating financial intermediaries. AP’s pay $2 per coin, plus their melt value.
Bullion and coin dealers are selling 2014-dated American Silver Eagles for about $4 to $5.50 over silver spot with discounts offered for larger orders and for those paying by cash, check or wire.