U.S. standard .900 silver alloy in coins may change under legislation

Goal of bill is conformity to world standard
By , Coin World
Published : 07/02/15
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The composition of the nation’s regular 90 percent silver coins and 90 percent commemorative silver dollars could change under provisions of legislation currently working its way through Congress.

The provision in H.R. 1698 — the Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Savings Act — is a proposed technical correction reportedly aimed at saving the U.S. Mint money by conforming to the current world standard of .910 fine silver for coin silver. The Mint reportedly has to order custom-made blanks for the .900 fine silver issues.

The measure also includes multiple other provisions involving gold, silver and palladium bullion coins.

H.R. 1698 on June 23 was passed by the House of Representatives by voice vote after suspension of House rules and forwarded to the Senate for its consideration.

The legislation was introduced in the House March 26 by Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade.

The Roosevelt dime, America the Beautiful quarter dollars, and Kennedy half dollar currently produced in Proof at the San Francisco Mint for several annual Proof sets, as well as all modern commemorative silver dollars, are composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. The composition is mandated by law.

Under H.R. 1698, the language “90 percent silver 10 percent copper” would be replaced with “not less than 90 percent silver.” However, Huizenga’s proposed technical amendment does not specify what the balance of the coinage alloy would be; it would grant the Mint leeway in adjusting the silver content as long as the composition is not less than 90 percent silver.

Palladium coin

The legislation opens the door wider for the prospect of the U.S. Mint producing a collector version of a 1-ounce .9995 fine palladium investment coin.

Huizenga’s legislation, if it becomes law, would render moot a congressionally mandated study under the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, Public Law 111-103. The study, executed by CPM Group, determined that demand for a palladium bullion coin would be low and the program likely unprofitable, finding:

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