Sales of American Eagle silver coins this month by the U.S. Mint jumped to a record on demand for an alternative to currencies.

Sales of the coins surged to 7.42 million ounces so far in January, the biggest monthly total since 1986, when the Mint began the transactions, Michael White, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview today.

Silver prices in New York have more than doubled since 2008 as the Federal Reserve increased its balance sheet with debt purchases aimed at spurring an economic recovery. The central bank, which concludes a two-day meeting tomorrow, has pledged $85 billion in monthly bond buying in its latest round of stimulus measures.

“The quantitative easing has helped boost sales as people are worried about currency debasement and future inflation,” Anthem Blanchard, the chief executive officer of Blanchard Vault, a Las Vegas-based online retailer of gold and silver, said in a telephone interview. “We expect demand to remain buoyant.”

Global holdings of silver in exchange-traded products reached a record 19,699 metric tons on Jan. 18, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Prices are up 3.2 percent this month in New York, after advancing 8.3 percent in 2012, as central banks from the U.S. to Japan pledged more stimulus measures to boost economic growth.

Monthly Purchases

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will push on with purchases of $40 billion a month of mortgage bonds and $45 billion a month of Treasuries until the first quarter of 2014, according to a Bloomberg survey of 44 economists.

Silver futures for March delivery rose 1.3 percent to $31.184 an ounce today on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract in two weeks.

The Mint resumed silver-coin sales yesterday after transactions were suspended for more than a week because of a lack of inventory.

Sales of American Eagle gold coins so far in January are up 84 percent from December to 140,000 ounces, which would be the highest monthly total since July 2010, Mint data show.