United States Mint officials are working at resurrecting the
American Eagle platinum bullion coin program, though the first coins
may not be issued until 2013.
No American Eagle platinum bullion coins have been sold since
Should the United States Mint resurrect the American Eagle
platinum bullion coin program, production would likely be restricted
to the 1-ounce size, with none of the three fractional sizes struck,
according to Deputy U.S. Mint Director Richard Peterson.
In a Jan. 27 telephone interview with Coin World,
Peterson discussed progress on platinum bullion coin production.
“We’re in the discussion phase right now,” Peterson said. “There’s
a lot of work to be done to bring a 1-ounce platinum coin to market. I
don’t know if we’re going to get there in calendar year 2012. We are
amenable to offering a platinum coin. We’ve got capacity. If the
planets come into alignment where there’s market demand and
supply-chain availability, we’re happy to bring that product out.”
The United States Mint has produced four different sizes of
American Eagle bullion coins: a 1-ounce $100 coin, half-ounce $50
coin, quarter-ounce $25 coin and tenth-ounce $10 coin.
The last time the Mint produced and offered American Eagle
platinum bullion coins for sale was November 2008, when the half-ounce
coin was offered for sale.
Platinum American Eagle bullion coin production was suspended in
November 2008 because U.S. Mint officials wanted to focus attention on
the production of silver and gold American Eagle bullion coins, for
which sales were surging, according to Tom Jurkowsky, director of the
U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Affairs.
Current U.S. law requires annual production of gold and silver
American Eagle bullion coins to demand, but does not mandate
production of the platinum American Eagle coins.
The American Eagle platinum bullion coin was introduced in
September 1997 with a portrait of the Statue of Liberty on the obverse
and a Soaring Eagle design on the reverse. Those same designs have
been used on all American Eagle platinum bullion coins of all dates
and sizes produced since then.
Starting in 1998, the Mint began using a different reverse design
annually on the collector versions of the platinum coins. Production
of the Proof version of the American Eagle 1-ounce platinum bullion
coin has continued unabated despite the end of production in the
Resurrecting the program
An inkling that U.S. Mint officials were contemplating resumption
of American Eagle platinum bullion coin production came during the
first week of January 2012 when the U.S. Mint’s 2011 Annual Report was released.
The Annual Report revealed that U.S. Mint officials met in
November 2011 at the Philadelphia Mint in a six- to seven-hour meeting
with its authorized purchasers to gauge demand for American Eagle
platinum bullion coins.
The U.S. Mint does not sell its bullion coins directly to the
general public. It sells the bullion coins through a network of
authorized purchasers for the spot price per troy ounce of the metal
on a given day, based on the London PM fix, with a small premium
added. Authorized purchasers are required to place minimum orders.
Peterson said the November meeting with authorized purchasers was
the first time in more than a decade that U.S. Mint officials met
face-to-face with the representatives of the firms.
“This is a significant customer base we have not reached out to,”
Peterson said. “Nobody’s been talking to them face-to-face in a long time.”
While discussion at the November meeting in Philadelphia included
a review of the requirements for a palladium bullion coin (see later
discussion in this article), most of the dialogue focused on
resurrecting platinum bullion coin output, according to Peterson.
“We asked the APs what public demand is for platinum, whether
there is room to do platinum properly if there’s demand for it in the
marketplace,” Peterson said.
Authorized purchasers provided preliminary estimates at the
November session, but U.S. Mint officials are awaiting and will
collate firmer potential sales figures, Peterson said.
Peterson said the APs said there is demand for the 1-ounce
version, but for the Mint not to bother consideration of producing
According to the U.S. Mint’s sales figures posted online at www.usmint.gov, from September 1997
through November 2008, the United States Mint has sold 534,100 ounces
of American Eagle platinum bullion coins, with 328,800 ounces being in
the form of 1-ounce coins.
Once U.S. Mint officials estimate projected public demand for the
platinum coins, they will have to go out into the supply chain to
determine whether the Mint can obtain adequate production blanks,
Peterson said, and subsequently enter into a purchase agreement.
Currently, the U.S. Mint obtains 10,000 to 15,000 platinum blanks
for its Proof platinum American Eagles from GoldCorp Australia, which
operates The Perth Mint in Western Australia.
Although the West Point Mint has been the sole producer of the
American Eagle platinum bullion coins since their introduction in
1997, Peterson said the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints also
operate the same coinage presses that the West Point facility uses for
the issue and therefore could accommodate production of the platinum
coins depending on those facilities’ striking schedules for other
American Eagle bullion coins do not bear the Mint mark of the
production facility at which the coin is struck. ■