Only 9 days ago we reported that orders for the one ounce Silver Eagle bullion coins by the U.S. Mint on the first day they became available (January 7th) hit a new record of nearly 4 million coins – the highest single day sale in the programme’s history.

Since then demand has apparently remained extremely strong with over 6 million coins sold in less than 2 weeks causing the Mint to have to temporarily suspend sales to its authorised dealers while it rebuilds inventory.

The Mint says it expects that no new Silver Eagles will now be available before January 28th or possibly a few days later, and will then ration coins on an allocation basis.

The Mint’s sales had been heading for a new record monthly total exceeding last year’s January record sales figure of 6.1 million coins, but whether this figure will be exceeded will depend on whether sales are actually resumed before the month end.

Specialist website coinupdate.com  comments that  The frenzied pace of orders for 2013 Silver Eagles has been driven by the typical rush to acquire the most recently dated coins, as well as pent up demand following three weeks of unavailability. The US Mint had unexpectedly sold out of the 2012-dated coins on December 17, 2012 with no coins available to order until the launch of the 2013-dated coins.” 

Indeed up until the December sales suspension coin sales had been running extremely strongly, with Mineweb’s Dorothy Kosich reporting that December 2012 American Eagle silver bullion coin sales totalled 1,635,000 ounces, the third highest December sales figure in history.

Although this was reported as down 18.6% from the 2,009,000 ounces sold in December 2011 this is hardly surprising given the early suspension of sales in the 2012 period, without which it would almost certainly have been the highest December figure ever.

Given a seemingly weak silver price the huge interest in purchasing the silver coins would seem to contradict the metal’s price performance on COMEX, but, as we have pointed out before, machinations on the market through huge trading sales of silver futures (paper sales) utilising high frequency trading have seemingly distorted it and it is not reflecting apparent demand for the physical metal. 

In a report yesterday, Reuters commented that the U.S. Mint’s physical bullion coin sales had risen in the final months of 2012 as investors were looking for protection from a feared U.S. recession as many economists had predicted a U.S. economic downturn would occur if Congress and the White House did not act to stop possible huge tax hikes and automatic spending cuts should agreement not be reached over the so-called Fiscal cliff.

However, although the fiscal cliff may have been averted for the time being, this does not seem to have diminished demand – indeed it appears to have accelerated.

It is also not the first time the Mint has faced a run on its stock Reuters comments. It has had to start rationing through allocating sales to authorized dealers in recent years after its supplies were depleted by earlier unprecedented demand.