For years various countries, the United States included, have been minting coins composed of precious metals – silver, gold and platinum – to satisfy the demand from investors who want to buy precious metal in a recognizable weight and form.
Beginning in 1986, the United States minted gold and silver coins known as “Eagles,” silver in 1-ounce units and the gold coins in 1-ounce and fractions of one-half, one-fourth and one-tenth ounce. Then in 2006 platinum coins were added to the list so people could own platinum.
These coins are minted and sold in uncirculated condition at a small premium over their metal value, and in specially made proof condition for collectors that sell at a higher premium. Even though they are marked with a dollar value, that value is so far below the coins’ value as a precious metal, no one would ever think of spending them. The term for this type of currency is noncirculating legal tender.
In 2017 the West Point mint added another coin of a different precious metal, palladium, to the choice of bullion coins available to investors. I’m willing to bet not many people have heard of palladium, but like its cousin platinum, it is a scarce metal, and most of its production goes into making catalytic converters for automobiles, hence there is a strong demand for the metal.
Interestingly, palladium has overtaken platinum in value, rising in price to almost $1,000 per ounce. This is palladium's high, doubling from its low in January of 2016. Compare this to gold, which had a high price of almost $1,900 per ounce in September 2011 verses $1,290 now; platinum, at almost $2,000 per ounce in April 2008 verses $950 now; and silver, which was almost $50 per ounce in April 2011 verses $17.25 now.
The United States is not the first to mint palladium coins. Canada did in 2015, and palladium bars have been available from the major refiners. However, it looks like the West Point minted coins are not going to trade for their metal value but instead will have a substantial premium due to their low mintage of only 15,000 coins, which sold out immediately at offering.
The palladium coins struck by the mint are very attractive, capitalizing on the popular design of the old Mercury dime, whose design is featured on the front (obverse) of the coin along with the “W” mintmark. The reverse features a new design of an eagle with its’ claw holding down an olive branch, which it grasps with its’ beak, the denomination $25 and the notation “1 oz. (weight), pd (the chemical symbol for palladium), and .999 fine (for the purity of the metal). Size wise it is a little larger than our half dollar coin. Seen one of them lately?
Due to the popularity of the new palladium coin, I feel this will become a permanent addition to the eagle “nest” and hopefully there will be fractional sizes added to the series.
On behalf of Linda and myself and all of our staff we wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
Douglas Keefe is the president of Beachcomber Coins Inc. He and his wife, Linda, operate Beachcomber Coins and Collectibles, formerly in the Shore Mall and now at 6692 Black Horse Pike in the old Wawa building just beyond the former Cardiff Circle in Egg Harbor Township. They have satellite offices in Brigantine and Absecon. Between them they have more than 70 years of experience in the coin and precious-metals business. They are members of the American Numismatic Association, the Industry Council of Tangible Assets, the Numismatic Guarantee Corp., the Certified Coin Exchange and the Professional Coin Grading Service.