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Year-End Bullion Product Report
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(December 1, 2007) Just as the gold market cools off a bit, and bargain-hunters look to get their toes wet at lower price levels, we find a conspiracy of factors in play that make physical gold bullion products a little harder to find.
Before the Thanksgiving turkey was even thawed out, the US Mint announced that they would produce no more 2007-dated Eagle coins, in order to free up production capacity to crank out the new 2008-dated gold, silver and platinum products for January. Although this is a normal year-end occurrence, we can’t remember the Mint previously slamming on the brakes six weeks before year’s end. And it was all the more keenly felt coming in the middle of one of the strongest precious metals rallies experienced in decades. Distributors, dealers, and investors were all taken by surprise.

So at this point, the Mint has no more gold 1-ounce or tenth-ounce Eagles, no silver Eagles, and no more platinum Eagles to sell until the first week in January. We have all sizes of the gold Eagles, but premiums are starting to rise. Eagle product shortages will probably increase through December until the 2008 coins are released in the first week of the new year.

Interestingly, if the mintage figures on the US Mint’s website are to be believed, only some 20,000 quarter-ounce gold Eagles were sold this year through the end of November. The previous record low mintage for this size Eagle, since the beginning of the program in 1986, was 1991’s mintage of 36,000 coins. Something to think about.

Just as silver Eagles are now in short supply, the Royal Canadian Mint is running weeks behind in their release of silver Maple Leaf coins. The RCM pre-released their 2008 dated gold and silver Maples in November, and so far there is no shortage of the gold products in the various sizes.

The silver Maples are now distributed in a new square yellow plastic box that looks like part of a Lego set, containing 20 tubes, each of which holds 25 coins. It’s actually a pretty cool item, and we have been selling quite a few of the silver Maples, albeit with some delays in delivery.

Moving on to the Pamp Suisse gold and palladium bars, the Pamp company is having some production glitches which is causing delays in delivery of their product at this time. Interestingly, Pamp supplies a variety of gold bullion products all over the world, particularly the various gram-denominated gold bars for the Indian and Asian markets. Business is booming for Pamp, leading to intermittent shortages cropping up in the US pipeline.

Austrian Philharmonic gold bullion coins dated 2007 are no longer available in the US, and the next US delivery of those coins will probably be 2008-dated product early in January. For some reason, this normally only mildly popular bullion item had become a hot ticket during the month of November in the US market, and available dealer and distributor supplies were quickly drained. Supplies will not reappear until sometime in January of 2008.

Even the lowly and common gold Krugerrand is becoming harder to find in quantity. The recent dip in gold prices has virtually ended the parade of sellers who were happy to be receiving over $800 each for their long-held coins. The unique thing about the Krugerrand market is that the floating supply depends on willing sellers, whereas the newer bullion coins can be purchased thorough normal distribution channels at will. So, this week’s gold price correction has shrunk the available supplies of Krugerrands substantially, and premiums have risen accordingly.

As always, we are filling all orders that we confirm, and in a timely manner. If we don’t have an item in stock, or cannot obtain it through normal channels, then it is not our policy to take orders on the chance that we will fill it ‘someday.’ Our only serious glitches have been with the Pamp bars, which have been slower to arrive than we anticipated. We appreciate your patience and understanding if your Pamp order is a few days late getting filled.

As many of you have noticed, we have suspended sale of the complete Lunar Series I 1-ounce gold coin sets. Simply put, we don’t have the Dragons to complete the sets. We have raised our bids on Dragons to 50% over gold value, and would take 100 coins at that level, but so far we are not finding many.

But we do have one piece of good news in the Lunar Series I gold coins: we are now selling, and bringing back quantity discounts, on our last consignment of 1-ounce coins for the nine animals which did not reach their production limit of 30,000 pieces: the 1996 Rat, 1997 Ox, 1998 Tiger, 1999 Rabbit, 2003 Goat, 2004 Monkey, 2005 Rooster, 2006 Dog, and 2007 Pig.

At this time, we have over 200 coins available for each year’s issue. They will be in our hands later in December. The Perth Mint has yet to announce final mintage figures while they are still delivering the last round of order, but we are given to believe that some of the remaining nine 1-ounce issues have been produced in quantities substantially below the 30,000 coin ceiling.>br>

So if you are looking for a bullion coin with the potential for future collector value, the Australian Lunar 1-ounce coins at today’s levels (barely more expensive than buying new Eagles or Maples) have to be the most enticing gold buy available.

We encourage you to take a look at our Lunar gold 1-ounce page and the new quantity prices which are available while supplies last.

And when we get word of the final Lunar Series I mintage figures, we will post them here immediately.

 

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