Tuesday April 8, 2014, 4:20am PDT
By Charlotte McLeod - Exclusive to Silver Investing News
In 2013, investors watched as the US Mint broke record after record for American Eagle silver coin sales, eventually selling 42,675,000 of the coins, 26 percent more than it sold in 2012 and a new yearly record.
While this year hasn’t been quite so eventful, March did see the Mint sell 5,354,000 silver American Eagles — that’s 30 percent more than it sold in February and 59.5 percent more than buyers snapped up during March 2013, as per CoinNews. It’s also the Mint’s fourth-biggest sales month ever, falling behind only:
January 2013, with 7,498,000 coins sold;
January 2011, with 6,422,000 coins sold; and
January 2012, with 6,107,000 coins sold.
The March total brings 2014 first-quarter sales of the coins to 13,879,000, states CoinNews. Last year is the only time sales during that period have been better.
Why are sales up?
Shedding some light on why American Eagle silver coins sold so well in March, Sprott Money Blog identifies low silver prices caused by the US Federal Reserve’s statement that it ”may consider raising interest rates sooner than previously expected” and the “ongoing slowdown in China” as two potential catalysts.
The “increasingly precarious situation that the world finds itself in due to rising tensions over the Russian-Crimea crisis” is also driving physical silver demand, the publications states in another article.
What’s more interesting is the fact that sales of the coins could have been even higher.
That, as Coin Update points out, is because the Mint is rationing its American Eagle silver coin sales, a move prompted by its “inability to source sufficient precious metals blanks.” Further, according to Sprott Money Blog, this year the Mint did not start selling the coins until the second week of January.
As a result, states CoinNews, while figures from the US Mint are helpful in providing an understanding of physical silver demand, they cannot paint a full picture.
Coins from the sea
In other silver coin news, the Royal Mint announced recently that it is offering a limited edition silver coin made from metal sourced from the SS Gairsoppa, a merchant ship that was torpedoed and sunk en route to the Mint during World War II.
Its cargo — silver bullion, pig iron and tea — spent 70 years underwater before being discovered in 2011 by Odyssey Marine Exploration (NASDAQ:OMEX), which describes itself as “the world leader in deep-ocean shipwreck exploration.” In total, Odyssey brought 2,792 silver ingots up from the wreckage, over 99 percent of the insured silver reportedly aboard the ship when it sank.
The quarter-ounce silver coins, of which there are 20,000, are now selling for £30.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.