(Kitco News) - The U.S. Mint plans to re-launch sales of its 2010 America the Beautiful silver bullion coins on Friday after delaying the release of the five-ounce coin on Monday, it said on Thursday.

According to news reports, the U.S. Mint held up releasing the coin to authorized purchasers because premiums charged on the coins were far in excess of the Mint’s premium of $9.75. CoinNews.net said in a story earlier this week that premiums charged in the secondary market were anywhere from $120 to $160 per coin.

The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. Instead it relies on select number of “authorized purchasers” who can buy in quantity and then resell them to dealers and other sellers of precious metals, called the secondary market. The Mint has no control over premiums charged in the secondary market. The Mint expected demand for the coins to be great when it first announced it would release them.

Because of the concerns of excessive premiums the Mint spelled out specifics to its authorized purchasers in a memo on Thursday, citing the agreement between the Mint and these purchasers. To be able to sell the coins, the Mint is emphasizing that authorized purchasers make all the coins available for sale to the public that they acquire.

They also state that: “Authorized Purchasers may charge to their customers a price no higher than ten percent above the price at which the Authorized Purchasers acquire 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins from the United States Mint.  Authorized Purchasers may charge their customers a reasonable shipping and handling fee; however, Authorized Purchasers may not charge any other fee, premium, or other expense to their customers to circumvent this ten-percent markup limitation.  The intention of this condition is to ensure that members of the public can obtain these coins at a reasonable and affordable purchase price.”

The Mint added that the authorized purchasers may sell only one coin of each design for each household in order to “ensure the broadest and fairest public accessibility to 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins, which are limited-mintage United States Mint products.” Further, the authorized purchasers cannot sell directly or indirectly these coins to their officers and employees, again to make sure the public has a fair chance to buy the coins.

As in the original announcement, the Mint will allocate coins equally among its purchasers. There are a total of 33,000 coins available for each of the five designs the Mint has struck and each purchaser will get 3,000 coins of each design. The America the Beautiful silver bullion coins have a diameter of three inches and coin five ounces of .999 fine silver.

By Debbie Carlson of Kitco News dcarlson@kitco.com

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