This link is to an interesting interview by Chris Martenson at PeakProsperity of Robert Mish who is a precious metals dealer in Menlo Park, CA. Robert describes current premiums and lead times that dealers are paying for gold and silver. He also says that dealers are now charging their customers $5-$8 premiums for silver eagles and maples with delivery 3-8 weeks out. This is consistent with my survey of 3 internet coin dealers.
They discuss why retail customers are currently willing to pay a 20+% premiums and accept the risk of promised future delivery. Clearly customer believe that silver prices are going up and if they wait to order they will have to pay even more. When will the refineries and mints be able to catch up with demand for silver? Will they be able to secure enough raw silver?
Robert also mentions that he believes the mining companies will eventually be forced in to bankruptcy and taken over by governments and bullion banks. Chris doesn't have time to follow up on this, so Robert's thinking about how is not clear: gold price manipulation? taxes? regulation? If precious metals prices continue to be suppressed the miners could arrange to pay dividends and interest in bullion. Bullion would be worth much more than paper prices especially with continued paper price suppression.
Robert Mish: Front-Line Observations from a Seasoned Gold & Silver Bullion Dealer