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Where are Silver American Eagles?
By Patrick A. Heller
July 16, 2013

This past week, my company hosted a booth at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. This annual event has been going on for more than decade. The attendees are mostly libertarians, with a smattering of conservatives and liberals. Attendees are drawn by the opportunity to meet and ask questions of luminaries such as Dinesh D’Souza, Steve Forbes, Matt Kibbe, Art Laffer, Stephen Moore, Charles Murray, Grover Norquist, Sen. Rand Paul, Jim Rogers, and John Stossel plus another hundred speakers. Compared to the general public, the attendees include a much higher percentage of people who own or are interested in owning rare coins and precious metals.

At this year’s event, held at Planet Hollywood, attendance was a record high 2,200. There were additional people who came solely for the taping of John Stossel’s show on Thursday night, which will broadcast on Thursday, July 18, on the Fox Business Network.

Austrian economist and investment newsletter writer Mark Skousen produces Freedom Fest. As one of his traditions, he invites attendees at the end of the program on Saturday to come up on stage for a group photograph with everyone holding up a U.S. silver American Eagle. Among more than a hundred exhibitors, there are always a half dozen rare coin and precious metals dealers. Skousen asks each of these dealers to bring a supply of silver Eagles to sell to attendees so that they can show them off for the Saturday group photo. Typically, dealers bring current year issues, though one this year only had pre-2013 coins.

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As most of you know, it has been sometimes difficult for dealers to keep silver Eagles in stock for immediate delivery this year. The Mint has blamed outside suppliers of blanks for its inability to produce as many coins as the public wants to purchase. The coins are certainly not rare, with the U.S. Mint already having sold over 27.5 million coins year-to-date, on pace to set another annual sales record. Currently, delivery is now running about three weeks after customers make payment.

Knowing of this supply difficulty, I had set aside a few hundred coins a month ago specifically to take to Freedom Fest, the most we have ever offered at our booth. As soon as we opened up our booth Wednesday afternoon, we were besieged with customers wanting to purchase silver Eagles. We set a low quantity limit per customer, as our intention was to make coins available to a greater number of people for Saturday’s group photograph rather than to sell these coins to customers making a bulk silver purchase.

Unlike past years, customers constantly asked if we would sell them our entire inventory. After we declined, a few expressed a desire to come back late Saturday afternoon to see if we would make them a deal to take any remaining inventory off of our hands.

Such would-be buyers never had a chance. One dealer exhausted his supplies by Thursday afternoon. For the first time ever at Freedom Fest we sold out our entire inventory, with the last coins selling Friday afternoon. By Saturday morning, every dealer who had brought silver Eagles to Freedom Fest had sold out.

Now, I suspect that demand was higher this year with the spot price of silver sitting at its lowest levels in about three years. Demand was also likely a bit higher because attendance exceeded last year’s record by about 10 percent. Still, the incessant requests to make quantity purchases were at levels we had never experienced at Freedom Fest before. For such would-be buyers, we had to direct them to call our store to place an order.

For me Freedom Fest was an exceptional networking event. My company gained dozens of new customers. I taped four radio interviews, including one for a program syndicated in 120 markets. When I talked with John Stossel Friday morning, I handed him a copy of my July 8 column posted at CoinWeek.com titled “Where’s The Gold” (http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/wheres-the-gold/) and suggested that he have one of his producers evaluate it for a possible future program. He promised to do so. I agreed to write articles for publications where I have not yet appeared. There was even a company that is planning to use silver coins supplied by my company for their marketing promotions. My own speech at Freedom Fest was well received. It covered the rise and fall of the money of ancient Rome and the parallels in America’s monetary history.

If the U.S. Mint could ramp up production levels of silver Eagles, I’m confident it could set an annual sales record by the end of September. Then dealers across the country would not have to hear the constant question of “Where are the silver Eagles?”


Patrick A. Heller is the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He owns Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Other commentaries are available at Coin Week and CoinInfo.com. He also writes a bi-monthly column on collectibles for “The Greater Lansing Business Monthly.” His radio show “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing.





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Comments
On July 19, 2013 Roger at BuyAndStoreGold.com said
I don't understand why anyone would be interested in buying Silver at FreedomFest unless the prices were abnormally low.

Considering that dealers had to haul the things there, why would the prices be low?

Silver Eagles are not in short supply anywhere I look, and premiums are pretty close to normal.

Why not just buy them nearby home, wherever home is, rather than have to pack them home from Vegas after hiding them in your hotel room for a few days?

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