The allocation for last month was about a million ounces lighter than normal. With the "sale" price today a lot of ASE's flew off the shelves. APMEX is feeling the squeeze in supply already and raised their premium today to $3.99 over spot. They are pre-selling the 2014's for Jan 24th delivery at $4.49 over spot. They also raise premiums another 20 cents on 90% junk. When the mint shuts down sales for 5 weeks starting Dec 9th the premiums will go off the scale again when all the dealers run dry.
A couple weeks ago Silver Doctors said that Sunshine Mint (major supplier of silver blanks to the US Mint) was backed up 30 days on wholesale silver sales. Maybe that's the reason for the weak allocations of ASE's -- they can't source enough 1,000 oz bars to fill orders.
APMEX selling 2014's for delivery in two months (Jan 24) @ $3.99 over spot. Kind of like buying a futures contract - if you want some 2014's and think that silver prices will take off over the next two months you can buy them now while silver spot is still sub $20.