Precious Metals

Platinum Eagle bullion is back after long hiatus

After offering no American Eagle platinum bullion coins in 2015, the U.S. Mint plans to offer 2016 coins to its authorized purchasers July 25.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

2016 American Eagle 1-ounce platinum bullion coins will be offered for sale by the U.S. Mint to its authorized purchasers beginning July 25.

Unlike the Mint's annual issues of American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins, its platinum product has been offered only occasionally. The 2016 offering is the second by the U.S. Mint since late in calendar year 2008. The U.S. Mint sold 16,900 of the 1-ounce platinum $100 bullion coins in 2014, the last time it offered the platinum bullion coins.

When bullion sales begin July 25, the authorized purchasers will be able to place orders for the coins under an allocation system that is based on previous order placements for the bullion coins.

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Sales will continue until the Mint's inventory of the .9995 fine platinum $100 coins is depleted. Mint officials have not disclosed how many total coins will be made available nor details of how the coins will be distributed under the allocation process.

Wait, wasn't the Mint just selling platinum American Eagle coins in June?

Yes, but it was a different kind of American Eagle platinum coin.

The Mint on June 30 opened sales for its Proof 2016-W American Eagle platinum coin. Though American Eagle platinum bullion coins haven't been offered since 2014, Proof versions of the coin have been issued every year since the platinum's inauguration in 1997.

Proof coins have a special finish and are meant as collector items. Bullion coins, on the other hand, serve as a means to invest in the precious metal they're made from — in this case, platinum.

The Proof platinum coins were popular. All 10,000 of the 2016 coins sold during the first hour of sales.

Because of the two products' differing purposes — collector item versus precious metal investment — the strong performance of the Proof coins doesn't help forecast platinum bullion coin demand and how many bullion coins the Mint will sell.

How does a normal collector or investor go about getting a American Eagle platinum bullion coin?

The U.S. Mint does not offer its American Eagle bullion coins to the public. The coins are offered instead to a network of approved firms, who are referrred to as authorized purchasers, who offer a two-way market buying and selling the coins. 

The authorized purchasers buy the coins based on the closing London PM spot price of the metal per troy ounce on a given day plus a 4 percent premium.

The coins are then resold to other dealers, collectors and investors for a further markup.

Learn more about how the bullion market works. 

What's the value of platinum these days?

As of 12:39 p.m. on July 21, one ounce of platinum was valued at $1,102, according to Kitco.

For a little context, one ounce of gold was valued at $1,330.30, and one ounce of silver was valued at $19.675.

The price of platinum has climbed since the beginning of the year, when it was hovering around $900 per ounce.

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