Louis Golino

Modern Numismatics

Louis Golino

Louis Golino has been a collector of American and world coins since childhood and has written about coins since 2009. In addition to writing about modern coins and other numismatic issues for Coin World, he writes a monthly column for The Numismatist magazine and has written for other coin publications. In 2017, for  “Liberty Centennial Designs,” in Elemetal Direct, he was presented with the Numismatic Literary Guild's award for best article in a non-numismatic publication. He is also a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum. 

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Palladium American Eagle distribution was not unfair

Like many other collectors I would concur with Norman Carpenter’s (Coin World Guest Commentary, Nov. 13, 2017, issue) view that the 2017 American Eagle palladium bullion coin is of superb quality and looks stunning in high relief. It is without question the coin of the year from the U.S. Mint and one of the most significant modern issues ever.

As for the reverse design based on the American Institute of Architects gold medal, the legislation authorizing the coin stipulated that this design must be used. I understand Mr. Carpenter’s concern about the eagle, though I fail to see what is cowardly about an eagle whose head is turned downwards to grasp a tree branch. All things considered, I think it was a good idea to use a Weinman design that has never appeared before on a coin.

However, I must take issue with the writer’s comments about the distribution and pricing for these coins.

First, the Mint is not currently set up to distribute bullion coins directly to consumers, and even if it acquired the staff and infrastructure to do so, I doubt it would have much impact on prices. For example, buyers who shop around today can obtain American Eagle silver and gold coins for a small premium over what the authorized purchasers pay the Mint. Exact premiums vary depending on the market at the time of purchase, and I fail to see how the Mint could sell them substantially cheaper, especially since it would have to pay for overhead costs just as dealers do.

Whether selling directly to consumers would mean obtaining “fresher” coins, as the writer suggests, is also unclear. By purchasing from large, well-established companies with good reputations, I’ve almost always received U.S. bullion coins of very high quality.

As for the 2017 palladium bullion issue, it is true that compared to palladium bullion pieces from other mints, the premiums on the American release were higher, as editor Bill Gibbs noted in an editorial. Those premiums likely reflect the fact that there were issues regarding sourcing of the required amount of planchets, which were originally supposed to come from U.S. producer Stillwater, that was acquired by a South African firm, and instead came from PAMP in Switzerland.

Most importantly, those who wanted the coin, and who followed reporting on it in this publication and shopped around, had the opportunity to purchase the coin when it was first released to the authorized purchasers for a relatively small premium over what the dealers paid the Mint. For example, I purchased a raw coin for $1,030 on Oct. 2 that looks terrific. The “50 percent or more” market premium the writer mentions only developed in the weeks following the coin’s initial release, as demand outstripped supply, buyers saw what a great piece it is and spot palladium prices continued to rise.

The Mint produced only 15,000 coins because it was unsure of how much demand there would be for the coin based on the feasibility study for this program that said the bullion coins would likely not be profitable.

Finally, I agree with the writer that now that we know buyers like the coin much more than was anticipated, a higher number should be minted next year, though I do not know what that number should be and think 150,000 would be too many.

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