The United States Mint temporarily halted the sales of several of its collector grade gold coins today (August 9, 2011) beginning at approximately 11:20 AM Eastern. This move comes in response to the recent surge in the price of gold which placed sale prices of the numismatic coins precariously close to the intrinsic melt value of each strike.
Coins affected by the temporary sales halt include the 2011 American Buffalo Gold Proof Coin, the 2011 American Eagle Gold Proof Coins, the 2011 American Eagle Gold Uncirculated Coin, and the First Spouse Gold Proof and Uncirculated Coins. Buyers looking to purchase the affected coins on the Mint's website will find the note of "This product is temporarily unavailable for product repricing."
Gold has hit fresh records in the last few days with prices of well over $1,700 an ounce seen. For reference, the London Fix for gold closed at $1,637.75 an ounce just last Tuesday (August 2, 2011).
It is that jump in the price of gold which has the Mint taking the drastic step of halting gold coin sales in an effort to insure the sale price of each collector grade strike includes a cushion over comparative bullion pricing. That cushion is required to not only cover production costs like minting, storage, etc. but also insures a premium is in place making the strikes cost more than their investment grade counterparts.
With gold at its recent peak, the cushion in place apparently does not meet Mint requirements. For example, one ounce Proof Gold Buffalos were recently selling for $1,910 per coin. This leaves less than a $200 gap between what the coin was selling for and recent market prices of gold.
The gap will undoubtedly be increased when the Mint returns the gold coins to availability which is expected to occur by tomorrow (August 10, 2011) afternoon. Typically, the US Mint analyzes the previous weeks average London Spot for precious metals and makes price adjustments as needed based on a matrix with those new prices going into effect mid-day Wednesdays.
Currently, collectors may still purchase the commemorative gold coins like the 2011 Medal of Honor Gold Coins and the 2011 US Army Gold Coins as their pricing is not subject to the Mint's Pricing Grid.