Friday's Wall Street Journal ran a page-one column about the Mint's rationing of order for silver bullion coins. -Editor.The government rationed food during World War II and gasoline in the 1970s. Now, it's imposing quotas on another precious commodity: 2008 dollar coins known as silver eagles.
The coins, each containing about an ounce of silver, have become so popular among investors seeking alternatives to stocks and real estate that the U.S. Mint can't make them fast enough. In March, the mint stopped taking orders for the bullion coins. Late last month, it began limiting how many coins its 13 authorized buyers world-wide are allowed to purchase.
"This came out of nowhere," says Mark Oliari, owner of Coins 'N Things Inc. in Bridgewater, Mass., one of the biggest buyers of silver eagles. With customers demanding twice as many as they did last year, Mr. Oliari would like to buy 500,000 a week. But the mint will sell him only around 100,000.
For Coins 'N Things alone, the shortage is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales of silver eagles. The firm sells about $1 billion worth of precious metal every year, including silver, gold and platinum coins. Mr. Oliari, a 50-year-old numismatist who has been in the business since 1973, sniffs: "You can't print what I want to say about the mint."
The mint, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury, has offered little explanation beyond a memo last month to its dealers. "The unprecedented demand for American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins necessitates our allocating these coins on a weekly basis until we are able to meet demand," the mint wrote. A spokesman declined to elaborate.
Each Monday morning now, the mint divides its silver coins into two pools. It divvies up the first equally among authorized purchasers. The second is allocated proportionately, based on the buyer's past purchases. The mint limited purchases once before -- in the late 1990s, when investors loaded up on silver, wrongly anticipating that a failure by the world's computers to adjust to the new millennium would cripple the economy.
To read the complete article, see: Losing a Mint: Curb on Coin Sales Angers Collectors
Wayne Homren, Editor
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.
To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum
All Rights Reserved.
NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster