A spike in gold prices prompted the U.S. Mint to suspend the online sale of gold collector coins Tuesday for the first time in recent memory, a mint spokesman said.
The move affects only the gold numismatic products sold to collectors and not the gold bullion coins sold to investors, Mint spokesman Mike White said from Washington.
Sales were suspended at midday for re-pricing, which was expected to be completed by late Wednesday, he said.
Asked when that had last happened, White said, "not in recent history that I can remember."
The American Eagle bullion coins for investors are sold only to authorized wholesalers — not directly to the public — and move with the London spot prices. Their sale was not affected, White said.
Prices for the gold numismatic coins sold directly to collectors and hobbyists include a surcharge and are based on a weekly average. The Mint has always reserved the right to halt those sales when the market price for bullion approaches the price of the collector coins, but no one could remember when — if ever — it had actually exercised that right, White said.
It happened Tuesday, as worries of more government intervention in European and U.S. debt crises pushed gold prices to a record near $1,800 an ounce before settling lower as the stock market bounced higher.
Numismatic gold coins include American Eagle proof sets that are specially minted to produce a fancier finish, as well as limited-edition commemorative coins honoring American institutions, culture and history. The surcharges on those go to support organizations such as museums and historical sites.
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