May 29, 2024

US Mint American Palladium Eagles

Palladium EaglesPrecious metals investors and coin collectors may soon be able to purchase American Palladium Eagle coins from the United States Mint. The bill H.R. 6166 was passed in both the House and Senate and signed into law by the President on December 14.

The .9995 fine, one ounce palladium coins will be produced provided that a required marketing study demonstrates sufficient demand  for palladium bullion coins produced by the United States Mint exists. The first coins are required to be minted and issued within one year of the submission of the study.

Specific guidance is provided regarding the sourcing of palladium for use in the new bullion series. It must be purchased from palladium mined from natural deposits in the United States within one year after the month in which the ore is mined. If no such palladium is available or it is not economically feasible, other available sources may be utilized.

Designs for the Palladium Eagle will be high relief likenesses of Adolph A. Weinman’s Mercury Dime obverse and 1907 AIA medal reverse. Both bullion and collector coins would feature these designs, although the collector coins could be issued in proof and uncirculated versions, with different surface treatments.

The bill authorizing the Palladium Eagles was introduced by Denny Rehberg of Montana, the only state in the U.S. where palladium is mined. The Congressman had presented the program as a way to fill a niche for investors and collectors, and to counterbalance the effects of General Motors decision to end its supply agreement with Montana’s Stillwater Mining Co.

Today, it was announced that General Motors decided to renew their supply agreement with Stillwater in a three year deal. Stillwater also supplies palladium to Ford Motor Co. until a contract due to expire at the end of the year.

American Palladium Eagles?

Should the United States Mint produce a palladium bullion coin? A Congressman from Montana, where most domestic palladium mining takes place, thinks so.

The bill H.R. 6166 American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 was introduced on September 22. The bill had no cosponsors, but has been passed in the House of Representatives without objection. In order for the proposal to become a reality, the bill must be passed in the Senate and then signed into law by the President.

This is not the first attempt for palladium bullion coins. Previous attempts in the House and Senate have included:

  • H.R. 5614 Original Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra High Relief Bullion Act
    • Introduced March 13, 2008 by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana
  • S. 2924 Original Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra High Relief Bullion Act
    • Introduced March 13, 2008 by Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware. Passed House May 15, 2008
  • S. 758 Original Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra High Relief Bullion Act of 2009
    • Introduced April 1, 2009 by Sen. Max Buacus of Montana – April 1, 2009
  • H.R. 3405 Original Saint Gaudnes Double Eagle Ultra High Relief bullion Act of 2009
    • Introduced July 30, 2009 by Rep. Dennis Rehberg of Montana

The latest bill does include some interesting provisions. Although it directs the source of palladium for the coins to be from newly mined domestic sources, if no such palladium is available, it would also allow other available sources to be used. This is an improvement from the laws behind the American Gold and Silver Eagle program.

The Palladium Eagle bullion coins would have a weight of one ounce, fineness of .9995, and face value of $25. The size and thickness of the coins would be left to the Secretary of the Treasury to decide. This is an improvement on the law behind the America the Beautiful 5 oz. Silver Bullion coins, which require a problematic 3 inch diameter.

The Secretary of the Treasury can decide if proof and uncirculated versions of the American Palladium Eagles should be struck. Again, this is an improvement from the lack of direction provided by the law behind American Gold and Silver Eagles.

There are some quirks to the bill, such as the stipulation that the surface treatment of each year’s proof or uncirculated version should differ in some material way from the preceding year. Until now, the US Mint hasn’t done much in the way of striking coins with varying surface treatments.

The bill also states that any US Mint facility other than West Point should strike coins other than the proof version of the Palladium Eagles. In other words, Philadelphia, Denver, or San Francisco would need to strike bullion and uncirculated coins, while West Point could strike proof coins.

Finally, the bill directs the use of designs by Adolph A. Weinman. Specifically the obverse design from the Mercury Dime and the reverse design from the 1907 American Institute of Architects Medal. Both would be rendered in high relief.