Mint seeking pink gold for 2018 commemorative
- Published: Apr 29, 2016, 7 AM
While the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act still awaited President Obama’s signature to become law, the U.S. Mint wasted no time in preparing for possible production of what would be the nation’s first “pink” coin — a gold half eagle with a pink hue and a novel composition.
The same legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., would also yield the first commemorative silver dollar whose composition could be other than the traditional .900 fine silver.
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The legislation was sent to the president April 20 after passage by both the House and the Senate. As of April 28, the bill had not been signed into law.
The legislation would authorize a three-coin program for 2018 that includes production of not more than 50,000 $5 half eagles combined in Proof and Uncirculated finishes to “be made of ‘pink gold’ which contains not less than 75 percent gold.”
Recent gold commemorative coins are 90 percent gold, with the balance of the alloy 6 percent silver and 4 percent copper.
The “pink gold” requirement is an homage to the Breast Cancer Awareness Movement’s reliance on the color pink to spread its message.
In the jewelry industry, red, rose and pink gold are differentiated by the percentages of copper each contains; pink gold contains the least copper, but more silver. Each has a minimum gold content of 75 percent.
The breakdown of metal content for each hue is as follows:
??18-karat red gold — 75 percent gold, 25 percent copper.
??18-karat rose gold — 75 percent gold, 22.25 percent copper, 2.75 percent silver.
??18-karat pink gold — 75 percent gold, 20 percent copper, 5 percent silver.
U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said April 27 that the bureau is in the “very beginning stages” of reaching out to its current precious metals fabricators seeking the pink gold to fulfill the legislation’s composition mandate. When the Mint obtains planchets of the proper alloy and color, it can begin experimenting.
“We plan to conduct testing as we have with other alloys, working with our suppliers, to manufacture the highest quality Uncirculated and Proof commemorative coins,” White said.
For the silver dollars — a potential 400,000 coins maximum in Proof and Uncirculated versions combined — the composition is to contain “not less than 90 percent silver.”
Current commemoratives have been struck in 90 percent silver, with the 10 percent balance of the alloy in copper.
A provision in different legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., passed in December and already signed into law, effectively changed the set 90 percent silver composition for U.S. silver coins to any “not less than 90 percent” alternative.
That would allow the Treasury secretary to establish fineness at .999 fine silver, the same as the American Eagle silver coins, and thus allow require the Mint to secure planchets of uniform silver finenesses. (Currently, American Eagle and commemorative silver dollar coins are of different finenesses and also of different sizes.)
White said no determination has been made as to what fineness of silver the silver dollar commemoratives would be or whether the composition would be changed at all.
Copper-nickel clad halves
The Breast Cancer Awareness legislation also calls for production and release, in Proof and Uncirculated versions combined, of up to 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars.
The composition comprises outer layers of 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel bonded to a core of pure copper, for an overall composition of 91.67 percent copper and 8.33 percent nickel.
The same composition is used for the copper-nickel clad Roosevelt dime, America the Beautiful quarter dollars and Kennedy half dollar.
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