When I decided to take a week off, I did not think that there would be much news in the numismatic community. I knew that the US Mint would issue the 28-coin 2007 Mint Set with a satin finish. I figured that would be all of the news from the Mint until the release of the James Madison Dollar. But it seems that precious metals prices have had an effect on Mint products.
As the dollar weakens, investors are running to precious metals to protect their assets. This is driving up the prices for gold and platinum. The increased interested gold caused its spot price to reach $711.40 on September 12. Because the margin decreased, the Mint suspended sales of American Eagle gold coins on September 13.
Platinum has also been surging. As of the market close on Friday, October 5, platinum closed at $1365—up over $300 this year— as gold closed at $741.30. When the markets opened on Monday, the Mint suspended sales of the platinum American Eagles and American Buffalo gold proof coins. The next day, bulk sales to dealers were halted. Only the silver and platinum proof American Eagles are still available.
Dave Harper of Numismatic News speculates that the Mint acts when the threshold between the cost of the metals and the spot prices are within $100 of the Mint’s sales price. While he has no evidence of this, it is a plausible theory based on recent events as all bullion sales ceased when gold and platinum spot prices were within $100 of the Mint’s sales price.
Before the Mint can reprice these coins, they are required to publish the new prices in The Federal Register. Nothing has been announced. Market volatility may make this more difficult for the Mint than expected. It could take the Mint until the end of the month to set new prices to allow the market to settle.