Paul is a senior editor and has been a member of the Coin World staff since 1988. Paul covers the U.S. Mint beat and has memorably reported for more than two decades on many of the hobby's most important stories, including the record sale of the Farouk/Fenton 1933 double eagle and the protracted legal proceedings of the Langbord 1933 double eagles. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and collects autographs and memorabilia from The Andy Griffith Show.
Lost opportunities with platinum, palladium
The U.S. Mint needs to reexamine how it produces its bullion coins.
While the 1-ounce gold and silver American Eagle bullion coins, 1-ounce gold American Buffalo and 5-ounce silver bullion America the Beautiful quarter dollars are being struck to order, the 1-ounce bullion versions of the platinum American Eagle and inaugural palladium American Eagle are being treated more like numismatic issues, with limited mintages.
None of the Mint’s bullion products are sold directly to the general public.
The Mint sells the bullion releases through its network of authorized purchasers at a set premium above the closing spot price of the specific metal per troy ounce on the London market.
The authorized purchasers, who offer a two-way market buying and selling the coins, then sell the bullion issues into the secondary market at a markup.
For 2017, the U.S. Mint struck and issued for sale to its authorized purchasers 20,000 platinum American Eagles. They were all sold on Jan. 29, the first day they were offered. Authorized purchasers wanted more, but the U.S. Mint has not had any more platinum Eagles struck and offered since.
And for the first year of the palladium American Eagle, only 15,000 were made available on Sept. 25, the one and only day the coins were offered to authorized purchasers.
These approved buyers wanted more platinum and palladium American Eagle bullion coins based on customers wants. I know, because I asked the authorized buyers. They needed more coins to meet the public demand. The U.S. Mint didn’t meet that demand.
You would think that the Mint, which is in the business of making money in more ways than one, would accommodate the demand and strike the palladium and platinum bullion issues to order.
It means more revenue for the Mint, since the bullion issues can’t be sold back to the bureau. And it provides the authorized purchasers with the coins their customers demand.
If the Mint is going to continue to strike the platinum and palladium Eagles in limited quantities, it should announce the specific numbers.
I believe the bureau is making a big mistake by not increasing its production of these two bullion issues. It’s a lost opportunity.