The United States Mint is no longer limiting how many 2016 American Eagle silver bullion coins it sells. Rationing ended this morning, July 18, the agency told its network of bullion distributors called "Authorized Purchasers."
AP’s include major coin and precious metals dealers, brokerage companies, and other participating financial intermediaries who buy U.S. Mint bullion coins in bulk and then resell them for a small premium above their melt value.
"We are pleased to announce after 28 weeks of allocation in 2016, effective Monday, July 18, 2016, we have lifted allocation of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins," the U.S. Mint said in a statement. "Authorized Purchasers may purchase as many American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins they desire."
This year’s bullion American Silver Eagles launched on Jan. 11, 2016 under the limited sales system. By rationing coins, the U.S. Mint always has some on hand and that eliminates extended sales suspensions during periods of high demand.
"The United States Mint will continue to monitor its American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin demand and adjust its bullion coin production accordingly," the agency added.
The U.S. Mint has the production capacity to strike coins to meet demand but it does not always have sufficient quantities of silver blanks. Blanks are the metal discs used in making the 1-ounce, 99.9% pure silver coins. The U.S. Mint does not manufacture these blanks like it does for nickels, dimes and quarters. They are instead purchased from a select group of vendors who ration how many they sell.
Demand for new bullion coins often eases around summer months, enabling the U.S. Mint to at least temporarily suspend its allocation policy. Last year turned into a quick exception. The agency halted rationing in June but ran out of Silver Eagles by July after higher-than-expected sales. The year ended with a record 47 million sold.
By comparison, demand for new American Silver Eagles has fallen sharply so far this summer even as silver prices marched toward a 2-year high. Still, their sales are tracking a new record. Their year-to-date total of 26,945,500 coins is 10% higher than the amount sold by July 18, 2015.