US Coins

Palladium takes toll on coinage dies

Production for the Proof 2018-W American Eagle palladium coin took its toll on the coinage dies used to strike the limited mintage of 15,000 coins at the West Point Mint.

The U.S. Mint reports that each coinage die lasted for approximately 375 coins, and each die was in service for roughly 1,125 strikes before being retired.

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In comparison, the Proof 2016-W American Eagle 30th Anniversary silver dollar die life was approximately 2,000 coins per die, according to Mint officials then.

The palladium coins were struck on a Gräbener GMP 360 Medal Press capable of a rate of 80 strikes per minute with a maximum striking pressure per strike of just over 360 metric tons. 

To produce the new coins, each 1-ounce .9995 fine palladium planchet, measuring 1.34 inches, or 34.036 millimeters, in diameter, requires three strikes, each strike at a pressure of 135 metric tons.

The West Point Mint struck all 15,000 Proof American Eagle palladium coins authorized before the coins went on sale at noon ET Sept. 6. In less than five minutes, enough orders were placed to exhaust the maximum mintage, disappointing many customers unable to place an order at the one coin per household limit.

Sales not reopened

The coins were sold Sept. 6 at $1,387.50 per coin. Many current secondary market offerings are priced at double the original Mint purchase price, or more.

The product option was put into “Currently Unavailable” status Sept. 6, with customers to be notified by email if any additional coins became available and sales reopened.

Some collectors reported to Coin World they received notification that coins had become available, but when they tried to place an order via the Mint’s website, received another “Currently Unavailable” notification.

The experience of numismatist Q. David Bowers echoes that of many frustrated collectors who, like him, were unsuccessful in placing an order for the Proof American Eagle palladium coin.

Here is Bowers’ account:

“1. I asked for the reminder.

“2. At noon on sale day I received the reminder.

“3. Placed my order immediately.

“4. Was informed the coin was in my bag.

“5. Went to the payment, where I already had an account, confirmed payment.

“6. Checked off box stating I agreed with the terms.

“7. Received a NO LONGER AVAILABLE notice.

“Then today [Sept. 12] I received an available once again notice.

“Went to order and was told NO LONGER AVAILABLE.”

The U.S. Mint did not reopen sales for the palladium coins, according to officials. As of Sept. 13, processed orders account for 14,775 of the 15,000 coins.

One collector reported to Coin World that he called the Mint’s telephone ordering line, maintained by the Mint’s contractor, PSF Web in Plano, Texas, and was informed that the Mint planned to produce additional Proof American Eagle palladium coins above the 15,000-coin limit. Mint officials state that there are not and never were any such plans.  

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