2018 was another poor year for bullion coin sales at the US Mint, but Perth shows positive signs

Time for a look at how well the United States Mint and the Perth Mint did in 2018 at shifting their gold and silver bullion products. Overall, the report card would read ‘not great – but could have been worse’. The Perth Mint has shown greater resiliance in the face of economic buffeting, particularly with gold – ironically, the US Mint’s weak-spot. A few conclusions;

1. The American Silver Eagle (ASE) continues its fall in numbers. Not even breaking a third of the 2015 figure, 2018 has to be seen as a disappointment and there’s little sign of an upturn.

2. The ASE’s gold sibling had a nightmare. It failed to match the ultra-low bar set by 2017’s disappointing performance and couldn’t even break 25% of 2016’s numbers. Again, the trend is heading downwards.

3. Perth Mint gold sales have actually risen, no doubt buoyed by the Asian market. An unexpected bright spot. Silver sales have also proven able to weather the storm, although less successfully.

Will 2019 bring relief? The fantasy magic bubble that glowed around cryptocurrency has certainly worn off. It’s fair to say that the rampant speculation that permeated that market in 2017 has cooled considerably, so will that money move back into precious metals? Palladium has certainly seen some spectacular price growth, so maybe some of that will rub off on silver and gold.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on our permanent bullion sales graphs. We will be updating these every month for your use, although we’re going to wind back these articles to a quaterly schedule. We’re not a site focused on the economics of precious metal numismatics, preferring to concentrate on new issues and the designs themselves, but it does lend some perspective.


Q4 2018

As you can see from the graph, there’s a positive rise of 65% in the volume of American Silver Eagles shifted by the US Mint in Q4/2018, over Q4/2017. They did fall by 49% compared to the third quarter of this year, and the number represents barely half those of Q4/2016, but it is at least showing signs of positivity. The trend is hardly encouraging, however.

Over the whole year we’re seeing a modest drop from 18.1 in 2017 to 15.7m ounces – a fall of 13%. The glory days for the ASE seem to be at an end. Between 2013 and 2016, annual ASE sales varied between 37 and 47m ounces and there was much speculation on breaking the fifty-million ounce barrier. It’s safe to say we won’t be seeing that anytime soon.

Things in Perth have shown considerably more stability. Variances between Q4/2018 and Q4/2017 are minor, as they are against Q3/2018. Sales for the year are down compared to 2017, but by under 5%. The greater resilience is likely down to the mints highly varied, and variable selection of designs with their numismatic appeal. They’re still the worst since the introduction of the high-volume, low-premium Silver Kangaroo, but even so, by only 24%.



GOLD - Q4 2018

The fall from grace of the Gold Eagle coin continues unabated through the fourth quarter. Compared to the same period last year, sales have plummeted a hefty 32%. Compared to this years third quarter, they’re down a huge 38%. To put that into an even worse light, 2017 was hardly a banner year, in fact quite the opposite. Comparing Q4/18 with the same period in 2016 sees a drop from 293k/oz’s to just 48k/oz’s – a fall of 84%.

So how bad is it for the year as a whole? The first quarter of 2016 did numbers that equalled the whole of 2018, and Q1/2016 was the second lowest of that year! Against 2017, yearly sales have dropped almost 19% – against 2016, a monstrous fall of 75%. The recent trend is still downwards.

The Perth Mint by comparison has fared a bit better. Quaterly sales remain relatively steady, and 2018 in its entirety actually saw an increase of 9% in ounces sold. We can probably put this down to the mints popularity in the the gold loving Asian markets. They’re still down 23% in comparison to 2016, so it isn’t all a bed of roses, but promising nevertheless.