The question always comes up, “What If Engelhard Industries had actually logged all details of their retail bullion production? Wouldn’t this then totally support and validate our mission? The simple answer is NO.We can’t tell you how many times we have been asked the above question. But honestly, in all of our research there is absolutely no evidence nor indication that Engelhard ever produced any books or logs on their ingot and bar production. If, in fact, they did, then we would hopefully own that important piece of history, or at least have access to it, IF it did exist. And if it did exist, it would likely show 100% production of all bars, which is very important information. But our data is reverse created, and is based on actual serial numbers logged, which gives us a meaningful representation of production serial number ranges, which extrapolates into mintages, and actual surviving examples. That is something that Engelhard could never have projected.If we were to rely only on Engelhard’s own production records for each size and variety, we would not know from their illustrations of any error bars, acute varieties or mis-stamp ranges. We would only know the general serial ranges and production numbers. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but we do believe that our comprehensive research over the past decade-plus has provided the collector community with a confident and trusted platform of accurate information on both production and survivability.At ALL ENGELHARD, our research is fundamentally based upon our serial number registry, which is now inclusive of well over 15,000 verified serial numbers that we have photo validated over the past decade. It is important to note that our mintage figures are now qualified estimates, and are continually monitored and updated based on new information received. A sample of our work product can be viewed below, redacted for proprietary protection. Our results indicate very concise serial number assignment patterns, which firmly indicate that non-letter prefix serial numbers were not repeated across weight class, contrary to previous belief. Occasionally, a zero prefix will share the same serial number as a non-zero prefix example. However, we do not feel this qualifies as a duplicate serial number as the zeros were added so as to preclude duplication with a non-zero counterpart.
These patterns have allowed us to make further educated refinements and result in significantly lower mintage figures than previously believed. It is important to note that some serial number ranges are shared between variety, or weight class, though it is clear that these numbers are not repeated. For example, a particular 5oz variety may have a serial number range from 50xxx – 54xxx while another 5oz variety or completely different weight class may have assignments within the 52xxx range, without number replication. Our studies have discovered only one anomaly of two 5oz examples with identical 56669 serial numbers, both of identical variety. These two examples have been studied in hand and fully authenticated. We further believe the letter-prefix C (Canada), P (Plainville, Massachusetts) and W (Engelhard West – Anaheim, CA) serial numbers in 10oz class were of course independent runs, confirmed by duplicate numbers across these three letter-prefix registries. At this time, we believe the W serial numbers in 100oz class were likely not independent runs.We have had countless conversations with coin and bullion dealers who, at one time, regarded older poured bars as junk or crude bullion and, as such, melted them down, often in quantity. What percentage of common bars and rare Legacy Ingots represented in the mintage were melted? We will never know exact percentages, but there is strong evidence that actual surviving examples are only a small fraction of what our mintage estimates suggest. The mintage estimates on our Definitive Pages take independent and shared serial number assignments into consideration. However, they do not account for bars that have been melted over the years.Take the below example as an idea of how significant a ‘melt’ era can impact surviving coin and bullion examples:
‘An MS64 1920-S double eagle exemplifies the earliest of the many melt rarities towards the end of the Saint-Gaudens series. Only 100-150 examples are believed known out of a mintage of 558,000, and this PCGS-graded piece is surpassed in numerical grade by only eight coins at the major grading services. This coin sold for $99,875.00′ - CoinWorld | February 7, 2015
Imagine only 100-150 examples remain from a 558,000 mintage. Compare that with the fact that most Engelhard Legacy Ingots had mintages of less than 500. It is becoming a very clear reality that only a few known examples of certain varieties may actually exist today. Many studies have shown that less than 3% of the US Silver Dollars minted actually exist today, as millions of coins were melted in the 1979/1980 and 2011 market spikes. Could older Engelhard ingots have had a survival rate of 50%? Not likely. Maybe 25%? We doubt it. Remember, these were known as ‘junk’ and ‘scrap’ silver until less than a decade ago and older ingots, in general, had the highest probability of being melted. 10%? Perhaps, but likely lower than that. We are coming closer to a concise answer on this, and continuing to dial in the material consequence of how survivor-ship accentuates ultimate valuation. In a recent example, a collector in our group procured one of only three known 2oz ingots from a Midwest bullion dealer in 2012, saving it from being sent to the local smelter and destroyed. Incidentally, 2oz ingot 353059 sold via eBay auction on March 8, 2015 for $5,000 – an astounding $2,500/oz!
Our total mintage estimate of all Engelhard Tier 1 ingots is less than 24,500 and interestingly, at any given time, we have observed on average only two Tier 1 examples for sale in searching all worldwide auction venues, eBay being the largest. This equates to .00007% (7 in 100,000) of the total mintage currently for sale. In the Tier 2 category, we estimate a total mintage of less than 165,000 bars and ingots of all varieties, and surprisingly there are on average only 13 available for sale, equaling .00008% (8 in 100,000). And for the more common Tier 3, we estimate overall mintage of less than 200,000 of all varieties, with an average availability of only 29 for sale, or .00015% (15 in 100,000). In comparison to rare coins, there are currently over 250 listings for 1916-D Mercury Dimes, which is an average availability of .001% (1 in 1000) of it’s 264,000 mintage for sale at any given time. There are currently over 600 listings for a 1914-D Lincoln cent, with a 1.193m mintage, an availability of .0005% (1 in 2000). These comparisons suggests that surviving Engelhard Legacy Ingots are undeniably more rare than many rare numismatic coins, and that existing survivors may possibly be 5x to 10x+ less than our estimated mintages. In other words, the Engelhard survivor rate might be 20% in some cases, but likely far lower than 10% overall.
As we continue to add serial numbers and further define production ranges of each variety, we will update the Definitive Page mintages accordingly. Thank you for visiting!