It has been a week since my last post and I thought an update was in order. I will follow up with a post for some of these at another time. This will give me something to do while proctoring the final exam in an information security course I am teaching this semester.

I recently received four polymer 20 New Israeli Shekelim notes from a dealer in Israel. These notes are the first that Israel is producing on polymer “paper” that was developed by the The Reserve Bank of Australia. Israel is another in the growing list of countries to start using the polymer material. The notes include the same security features as rag-based notes and include a new clear window with a watermark that is said to be extremely difficult to counterfeit. While the polymer substrate costs little more and the production is only marginally more expensive, the benefit will come from the reduction in counterfeiting and the durability of the note. Polymer will last three-to-six times longer than rag-based paper.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is experimenting with different types of polymer paper for both US and foreign production. If the BEP can adjust their equipment to print on polymer paper, they can solicit business from other countries to produce their currency. Once the BEP builds its portfolio, they are prepared to go to congress to recommend discontinuing production of the one-dollar note. Until then, the BEP will continue to produce one-dollar notes in order to keep workers in key congressional districs in the Washington, DC and Fort Worth, TX areas employed. Remember, 95-percent of the BEP’s production are for one-dollar federal reserve notes.

The spot price of gold continues to drop as the dollar gains against the Euro and the Pound. Prices are returning to pre-2008 levels. However, buyers of gold collectors coins from the US Mint has not seen their prices reduced. While the Mint repriced gold and platinum coins in February and March, the Mint has not lowered their prices with the market. The one-ounce American Gold Eagle proof coin is still $1,199.95, the new price given in February. With gold closing at $876.88 today, the $327.07 premium is 36.8-percent higher than the spot price. This will cause problems for those who buy at thiese prices when reselling these coins.

While we are talking about gold, the Original Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra-High Relief Bullion Coin Act was simultaneously introduced in both the House (H.R. 5614) and Senate (S. 2924). These identical bills will allow the Mint to strike high-relief $20 gold pieces using the Augustus Saint-Gaudens original 1907 design. The date will be in roman numerals and the motto “In God We Trust” will be added over the rising sun as it appeared in 1908. The coin will be on a double-thick, 24-karat gold planchet (sometimes called a piefort) 27 millimeters in diameter.

The US Mint finally posted its online product schedule for the rest of the year. The only thing that jumps out at me is that the 2008 American Buffalo 24-karat gold proof coin is not listed.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives began to debate H.R. 5512, the Coin Modernization and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2008. The primary provisions of the bill will allow the US Mint to determine the size and composition of US coins without having to ask congress for permission. It also specifies that following 2009, the one-cent coin would be “be produced primarily of steel and treated to impart a copper color to its appearance similar to one-cent coins produced of a copper-zinc alloy.” Debate was cut off on procedural grounds by Republican lawmakers who oppose the bill.

It was just another uneventful week!

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