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What's With the Sales Surges?
January 27, 2009

With gold skittering along the $900-a-troy-ounce mark, the Mint has announced that the 2008 American Eagle tenth-ounce gold proof coins sold out yesterday.

Collectors are by now getting used to a new pattern as sales for collector versions of the Eagles close.

As they watch which mintages look low as the year closes, what they see are very large sales surges in percentage terms at the end of their availability.

The one-ounce proof was at 11,722 in the Nov. 9 report. It jumped to 16,327 by the Dec. 14 report.

The half ounce was 3,169 Dec. 14. It leaped to 14,792 by Jan. 11.

The quarter ounce was 4,639 Dec. 14. The total in the Jan. 11 was 15,229.

The surge for the tenth has been smaller. It was sitting at 10,335 Dec. 14 and was 13,580 last week.

Even the four-coin set had a merry run. It went from 9,569 Dec. 14 to 13,072 Jan. 11.

Are all these being purchased by individual collector buyers, or are there large purchases being made by a very few buyers? If the latter is true, these large supplies (in percentage terms) will overhang the market for quite some time unless some sort of promotion can convince individual buyers to take a chance on them.

These relatively small sales numbers that then large leaps should be a caution flag for anyone looking to do anything other than buy them for the long term. Can you imagine the buzz in the hobby if this kind of sales leap occurred with proof sets or uncirculated coin sets?

By the way, also announced yesterday, the American Buffalo 2008 Celebration Coins sold out.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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