The continued pace of gold and silver coins being distributed by the U.S. Mint and other government mints around the world are showing that investors continue to drive demand for physical precious metals in 2016.
The emergence of this trend continues even after rising bullion coin sales over the course of 2013, 2014, and 2015. Simply enough, the appetite for coins is largely attributable to broad trends across the economic landscape. In times of turmoil such as these, storing wealth in the form of something tangible by gold and silver coins is a tried and true strategy.
Sales Numbers from the Mint
In addition to gold hitting a 13-month high on the futures markets, a total of 34,500 gold coins of various denominations have been sold by the United States Mint thus far in March. This translates to 16,000 troy ounces of gold bullion. Already over the course of 2016, an impressive 276,500 troy ounces worth of gold bullion coins have been sold by the mint, or 8.6 metric tonnes of the yellow metal.
Between the two silver bullion offerings from the mint (the American Silver Eagle 1 oz silver coin and the America the Beautiful 5 oz silver coins), a total of 12,525,000 ounces have been sold—389.6 tonnes of silver bullion. The 12 million Silver Eagles distributed so far this year is nearly 25% higher year-on-year compared to 2015.
Gold Eagles With Improper Relief
An interesting development from the mint has been an apparent production malfunction with the flagship American Gold Eagle 1 oz gold coin. Distributors and collectors are complaining about Gold Eagles that have relief (the raised devices that create the coin's design) that extends beyond the rim of the coin. According to reports, "The problem apparently prevents the coins from properly stacking on top of one another, and the coins damage each other when stacked." Estimates place the number of coins affected at 63,000.
Rather than being categorized as an error, these "high relief" coins—unintentionally so—are being classified as variants. Third-party grading and certification companies such as Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) will not grade the coins, as the problem has led to scratched surfaces.
Thailand Commemorates Elephant in Gold and Silver
The Royal Mint of Thailand doesn't often make the news, but its new wildlife commemorative is drawing attention. These coins have been issued in both gold and silver, and were unveiled at the annual World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany.
The coins feature images of the Thai white elephant, an important national symbol. The coins are being produced to bring awareness to the country's wildlife conservation initiatives, which are intended to address deforestation and habitat destruction that threatens the elephant population. Yesterday, March 13, is celebrated as National Thai Elephant Day across the country.
Unlike Gold Eagles and Silver Eagles, which are typically sold in bulk quantities because they are valued primarily as legal tender bullion, these Thai coins are collectible commemoratives. For this reason, a limited number of these coins will be minted: 5,000 of the 200-Baht silver coins; 2,000 of the 2,000-Baht gold coins; and 1,000 of the 4,000-Baht gold coins. (The Baht is the Thai unit of currency.) Of note is that these will be the first time the Royal Thai Mint has issued a coin that exclusively features English text.
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