Weekly Numismatic World News for October 1, 2017

Adolph Alexander Weinman
(1870-1952)

Although the U.S. Mint has started shipping American Palladium Eagles, few have been available on the daily market. Most bullion dealers are offering these coins as a pre-sale with the expectation of receiving their coins on or about October 10 for shipment shortly thereafter.

Pre-sale prices are averaging $85-200 over the spot price, which is currently $928.00 on the world market. Since the U.S. Mint only sells coins to authorized dealers, those dealers will act as wholesalers down the chain. Each time a coin changes hands, there will be a markup. A coin can pass through a few hands before being offered for sale to the public.

And these prices are before the dealers rush to slab these coins. I am sure those grading MS-70 will go for significant premiums!

If you are interested in buying the coin, I would recommend shopping around. However, if you have a favorite dealer and there is not much of a difference between an online price and the dealer, you may want to consider supporting your local dealer!

And now the news…

 September 25, 2017

Shoppers have been reminded by the Royal Mint that the deadline for using the round pounds is October 15, before they are replaced forever by a 12-sided coin. → Read more at dailymail.co.uk


 September 26, 2017

After more than a thousand years of service, the Paris mint has thrown its doors open to the public with a vast exhibition of treasures, collectors' coins and a view of the craftsmen in their workshops. → Read more at reuters.com


 September 26, 2017

Congressman Richard Neal has been leading the effort to mint the coin celebrating the sport’s anniversary. → Read more at wwlp.com


 September 26, 2017

When I become the Supreme Overlord of the Earth and all its satellites, or Secretary of the Treasury (I plan on becoming one of those … → Read more at nevadasagebrush.com


 September 27, 2017

A new 50p coin celebrating Sir Isaac Newton can now be snapped up by people visiting his birthplace and family home. Just 375 of the coins are being released into tills at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire. → Read more at standard.co.uk


 September 28, 2017

A Sheffield man who collects rare banknotes and coins says South Yorkshire people can make plenty of money as Britain makes the switch to polymer currency. → Read more at thestar.co.uk

Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws
Image courtesy of USA Coinbook.

Have you bought your Palladium Eagle?

Quick update for those interested in the new Palladium Bullion Coin that was sold to authorized purchasers on Monday.

The U.S. Mint added a link for the Palladium Bullion Coin to the American Eagle Coin Program web page. The web page provides scaled image of the coin and the design information.

If you want to find an authorized seller, the U.S. Mint has a web page to let you find one based on your location.

Rather than using the images that were reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, the U.S. Mint also posted full-sized color pictures of the coins.

A quick check of online auctions shows that the American Palladium Eagle coin is averaging $1,100 per coin when buying one graded and encapsulated coin or $1,080 when buying an ungraded coin. Multiple coin lots are averaging between $1,070 and $1,080 each.

As I type this, the current price of palladium is $928.73. Dealers are paying 6.25 percent over the spot price (approximately $986.79) plus shipping costs. Graded coins also incur fees paid to the third-party grading service.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

POLL: Looking for Palladium Eagles after September 29

American Palladium Eagle mockup as presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

The U.S. Mint announced today that sales of the American Palladium Eagles will begin on September 29. As bullion issues, they are being sold through with authorized channels and not directly to the public.

After seven years since the law was passed (American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-303), these coins Will begin their sale. There is no indication whether the U.S. Mint will offer collectable versions or just release the bullion coins.

The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal designed by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

No price has been announced but the current Price of Palladium is $911.63. As a reference the current spot price of metals are as follows:

Precious Metals Price Snapshot as of September 19, 2017
(This is a static chart—it does not update)

The U.S. Mint does not publish the bullion and bulk sale prices the way it does for collector coins but it is likely that these coins are sold to distributors at a premium over their spot price. I guess we will find out how much these coins will cost for investors and collectors purchase when they hit the market.

For today’s poll, are you going to buy one?
 

Are you going to purchase the new Palladium Eagle?






View Results

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POLL: Are you interested in the remaining U.S. Mint special collectibles?

Not including the regular issues that will be sold by the U.S. Mint, the items left on their schedule is the American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set and the American Palladium Eagle.

American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set will be on sale on October 19, 2017 at Noon ET

I previously discussed the Palladium Eagle. The american Liberty Four Silver Medal Set are four silver medals featuring the gold 225th Anniversary American Liberty Gold design struck in silver and without a denomination. Each medal will contain one troy ounce of silver and consist of one medal from each of the active mints with different finishes:

  • Philadelphia Reverse Proof
  • San Francisco Proof
  • West Point Enhanced Uncirculated
  • Denver Uncirculated

Although the price has not been announced, given the current 225th Anniversary American Liberty Silver Medal $59.95, it is within reason to predict that the four medal silver set with special packaging will cost around $250 (plus-or-minus 15-percent).

The poll question of the day is are you going to buy these items?
 

Are you interested in the remaining U.S. Mint special collectibles?

I am just not interested (42%, 18 Votes)
I will buy the American Liberty Four Silver Medal Set (23%, 10 Votes)
These items are too expensive for my budget (14%, 6 Votes)
I am going to buy both (12%, 5 Votes)
I will buy the American Palladium Eagle (9%, 4 Votes)
I might consider them but buy them on the secondary market (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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Image courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

Palladium Eagles are coming

American Palladium Eagle mockup as presented to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee

According to reporting by Coin World, the American Palladium Eagles will be released by the U.S. Mint sometime in September.

As part of the lame duck session following the 2010 midterm elections, Congress passed the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-303) telling the U.S. Mint strike one-ounce .9995 fine palladium bullion coins as part of the American Eagle Bullion Program. The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal designed by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

The catch to the law was that the U.S. Mint was to perform a feasibility study to determine if there will be market demand. Although the study showed that there is a market for palladium coins, it was not overwhelming. Based on the wording of the law, the U.S. Mint opted not to strike palladium coins.

This did not sit well with Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg (R), Montana’s only member of the House of Representatives since the primary source of palladium in the United States is the Stillwater Mine in Montana. The mines, which also provides the U.S. supply of platinum group metals (PGM), is owned and operated by the Stillwater Mining Company. Rehberg added an amendment to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94, 129 STAT. 1875, see Title LXXXIII, Sect. 73001) that took away the U.S. Mint’s option and added the word “shall.”

The FAST Act was also the law where the law was changed to allow the U.S. Mint to use better than 90-percent gold and silver in commemorative coins by changing the wording to say “not less than 90 percent….”

Palladium Eagle coins may have roughly the same impact on the market as the Platinum eagles since palladium is about $100 less expensive than platinum, 69-percent of the price of gold, but 53-times the price of silver. Based on the way the U.S. Mint prices precious metal products, the Palladium Eagle should cost within $100 of the platinum coins.

Precious Metals Price Snapshot as of August 4, 2017
(This is a static chart—it does not update)

Although palladium is only the fourth metal to have an official ISO currency code (XPD), it is not readily thought of as a precious metal that is used to hedge against financial disaster. Gold (XAU) and silver (XAG) are usually thought of first. Sometimes, platinum (XPT) is part of the discussion, but not as frequently as gold or silver.

Palladium does have industrial uses. Because of its ability to absorb hydrogen and compounds with hydrogen, like hydrocarbon, its major use is in catalytic converters used in every gasoline powered vehicle. It is also seen as a key element in the potential of cold fusion because of its ability to absorb hydrogen.

It is likely the American Palladium Eagle will be as popular as the Platinum Eagle. Maybe the U.S. Mint will sell more of these coins because they will be slightly cheaper and have a design more appealing to collectors, but neither of these coins will approach the sales totals of the gold or silver version of the American Eagle coins.

It is not a coin I am likely to collect. However, I will probably purchase the 2017 coin to have one from the first year of issue just as I did with the 2007 American Buffalo 24-karat Gold Proof coin.

Palladium Eagle images courtesy of the U.S. Mint via Coin World.

December 2015 Numismatic Legislation

Congress ended the calendar year with a proverbial bang. Aside from actually passing a budget, they passed a comprehensive transportation bill that not only has the possibility of raising our infrastructure grade from a D– to a D (hey… it’s an improvement), but in a few short words will have a big impact on the U.S. Mint.

H.R. 22: Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act
Sponsor: Sen. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
• Introduced: January 6, 2015
• Passed House of Representatives on January 6, 2015
• Passed Senate with amendments on July 30, 2015
• Conference report presented to Senate on November 5, 2015
• Conference committee convened November 18, 2015
• Conference report agreed on by the House and Senate on December 3, 2015
• Signed by the President on December 4, 2015 to become Public Law 114-94

Read the details of this law at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr22

If you want to read my analysis of the impact to the U.S. Mint from this law, see the following four-part series:

  1. Transportation drives numismatic changes
  2. Now with more silver
  3. Palladium arcadium
  4. Transportation silver eagles

Palladium arcadium

Our final saga of How the Congress Turns (our stomachs), we will finish looking at the technical changes added to the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” or the “FAST Act” (H.R. 22) will impact collectors. Back to Title LXXIII, Section 73001 we find:

Title 31, United States Code, is amended —

(1) in section 5112 —
. . .
(C) in subsection (v) —
(i) in paragraph (1), by striking Subject to and all that follows through the Secretary shall and inserting The Secretary shall;
(ii) in paragraph (2)(A), by striking The Secretary and inserting To the greatest extent possible, the Secretary;
(iii) in paragraph (5), by inserting after may issue the following: collectible versions of; and
(iv) by striking paragraph (8);

Remembering that technical changes instructs the Office of the Law Revision Counsel how to correct the law, to understand this change we have to look at the law (31 U.S.C. § 5112(v)) to find that this is a correction to the law about minting palladium bullion coins.

Palladium Nugget

Palladium Nugget

The American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act (Pub. L. 111-303) originally requested that the secretary study the feasibility of striking palladium coins and mint them if the study shows a market demand. Although the study showed that there is a market, it was not overwhelming. Based on the wording of the law, the U.S. Mint opted not to strike palladium coins.

The very first edit is to take away the wording that says to do the study and strike if there is a market to saying that palladium coins will be struck using as much palladium as can be found from United States sources. If there is a higher demand, the U.S. Mint can use sources outside of the U.S. to purchase palladium.

Finally, the last correction not only requires the U.S. Mint to strike palladium bullion coins but to also create collector versions.


 
Palladium is a soft silvery metal like platinum. It is lighter than platinum (atomic number 46 versus 78) and similar to silver (atomic number 47). It has similar uses as silver including in electronics, compounded catalysts, jewelry, and coins. Palladium commands a higher price than silver because it is less available but less expensive than platinum, which is more difficult to mine.

The primary source of palladium in the United States is the Stillwater Mine in Montana. The mines, which also provides the U.S. supply of platinum group metals (PGM), is owned and operated by the Stillwater Mining Company. The American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act was introduced by Rep. Dennis “Denny” Rehberg (R), Montana’s only member in the House of Representatives.

The final entry will discuss how the transportation bill and bad timing will affect American Silver Eagle collectors.

Palladium nugget image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Other images courtesy of the Northwest Territory Mint.

New bullion benchmark begins new era

Last day at the London Fix market

Last day at the London Fix market

Friday was an important day for bullion buyers and buyers of collector coins whose prices are strongly tied to the price of gold. It was the day that the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) launched its new electronic-based gold benchmark system, London Gold Price, replacing the century old London Gold Fix. It ends an era when the bullion traders and refiners created a market to set the price in 1919. From the beginning, the market was hosted by Nathan Mayer Rothschild & Sons by the members of The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd. The market was moved to Barclays when NM Rothschild exited the bullion market in 2004.

The move to an electronic system followed the revelation that in June 2012 an employee of Barclays Bank manipulated the gold fixing process. Unfortunately, it was not an isolated incident. When Barclays was investigated, it was revealed that there were such system and control failures that members of the bank had been manipulating gold prices since they started hosting the market. In May 2014, the Financial Control Authority, the British equivalent Commodity Futures Trading Commission, fined Barclays £26 million for not properly managing the market.

What made the old system susceptible to manipulation was that it was still widely a human controlled process with bidding arbitrarily controlled behind then scenes. Even as the market moved toward a more technological approach, it was as if the technology was being used as the proxy with a human still doing the arbitration. Think of it as if the computers would provide the bidding but there was still an human auctioneer managing the bids.

The new market is electronically run and monitored in cooperation with the LBMA. Rather than a single source being responsible for all of the benchmark prices, the LBMA Gold price auctions are held twice daily by the ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA) at 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM London time in U.S. dollars. IBA is an independent subsidiary of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) responsible for the end-to-end administration of benchmark prices. They do not buy or sell commodities but manage the transactions and setting rates based on market forces.

To further diversify the market, the LBMA Silver price auction is operated by the CME Group, a Chicago-based market maker, and administered by Thompson Reuters. The London Metals Exchange administers the platinum and palladium price market. Silver auctions are held once per day at noon London time.

Proponents of the new market system touts its stronger oversight and detailed audit trail capabilities to support the new regulations as making this market more trustworthy than the previous system. Detractors wonder if the new electronic system could create market inequities that was seen in U.S. markets with programmed trading.

News reports suggest that the new market operated without problems on its opening day. In fact, the market saw a rise in all metals by the afternoon auction.

Snapshot of the bullion market on March 20, 2015 (static image, will not update)

Snapshot of the bullion market on March 20, 2015 (static image, will not update)

Since the U.S. Mint sets its price based on the London market, they sent the following note to Authorized Purchases of bullion products on March 18, 2015:

This is to inform you that on Friday, March 20, 2015 the U.S. Mint will start using the LBMA Gold Price (PM) to price and settle all of its gold bullion coin orders. The new gold price replaces the London Gold Fix and will be managed by the ICE Benchmark Administration (IBA). We do not anticipate any transition issues. Moving forward all gold bullion transactions with the United States Mint will utilize the new LBMA Gold Price (PM) in place of the (PM) London Gold Fix.

While the move will make the markets more transparent and possibly open it to more participants, it is uncertain how this will affect the price of metals in the long term. For that, my crystal ball does not compute!

London Metals Exchange market images courtesy of Mining.com
London gold price snapshot courtesy of Kitco.

Assessing the Lame Duck

On November 6, two weeks ago, the United States held an election and it resulted in basically no change in the political structure. President Barack Obama was re-elected, the House of Representatives is still being lead by the Republicans and the Senate by the Democrats. Leadership in both chambers should not change.

For numismatists, there will be one change in the 113th Congress with the retirement of Ron Paul (R-TX) who is currently Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, the subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Mint. There will also be a change on the leadership of the Financial Services Committee itself with the retirement of Barney Frank (D-MA), the Democrats will have to select a ranking member. There is no speculation as to who will replace these two retiring representatives.

In retrospect, after worrying about Paul becoming chairman of this subcommittee, the Financial Services Committee was able to maneuver around Paul’s usual intransigence by taking on legislation at the committee level rather than rely on the vetting of the subcommittee. In fact, because of Paul’s attempted run for the presidency, his absence made it easy for the committee to bypass his subcommittee.

There is still work for the 112th congress to do aside from the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration. H.R. 5977, the Collectible Coin Protection Act, still needs to be acted upon. The Collectible Coin Protection Act will allow collectors, dealers, and grading services to bring legal actions that are much more effective, with much stronger remedies than previously existed. It will allow those harmed to work with the Justice Department to bring criminal actions, where appropriate.

Now that congress is in their lame duck session, the only way H.R. 5977 can become law, is to have it considered under suspension of the rules and force an up or down vote. In order for the bill to be considered under suspension of the rules will be to have members of congress co-sponsor the legislation. At the time of this writing, there are 11 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. I urge all of my readers to support H.R. 5977 by asking their representative to co-sponsor H.R. 5977. If you can help, read the information I wrote for the posting “ANACS Revelation Shows We Continue to Have Counterfeit Problems” that describes how to contact your member of congress.

Bibiana Boerio was nominate to be the Director of the U.S. Mint.

Another bit of business left for the lame duck Senate is the nomination of Bibiana Boerio to be the 39th Director of the United States Mint. Although there has been no report of problems with her nomination, the partisanship battles in the Senate could cause a senator to threaten a filibuster to put her confirmation on hold. If Boerio is not confirmed by the final adjournment of the 112th Congress, President Obama will have to resubmit her nomination to the 113th Congress after it is seated on January 3rd.

An issue that will probably be deferred to the 113th congress will be the report to congress that is required under the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, (Public Law No: 111-302 [Text] [PDF]). The law requires the U.S. Mint to produce a report about the metals used for coinage and alternatives two years from enactment. Since the law was signed by the president on December 14, 2010, the U.S. Mint is required to submit their report by December 14, 2012.

Adolph A. Weinman’s Winged Liberty Head “Mercury” Dime effigy to be used on the new palladium bullion coin.

Another issue that will also probably be deferred to the 113th congress will be the study of the viability of issuing palladium bullion coins. Under the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (Public Law No: 111-303 [Text] [PDF]), the U.S. Mint is supposed to study whether it is viable to produce palladium coins as specified under the Act. That report is also due to congress on December 14, 2012.

Although there is no report from the U.S. Mint as to the status of either report, it would be reasonably certain that the U.S. Mint will submit both reports by December 14. However, it would also be reasonably certain that the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology will leave it for the next congress’s agenda.

Congressional Watch: Two Coin-Related Bills Passed

In a rare move of bipartisanship, the Senate passed two bills coin-related bills by Unanimous Consent on Tuesday that were previously passed by the House of Representatives. Bills passed by Unanimous Consent are agree upon by both party’s leaders and a voice vote is taken on the floor as a formality. No record of the vote is taken.

The first bill that passed is the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 (H.R.6166). Introduced by Melvin Watt (D-NC), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology following the hearing of “The State of U.S. Coins and Currency” held on July 20, 2010. As passed, the law requires the U.S. Mint to research minting metals used for coining money and to report to congress what changes should be made to prevent coin production from costing more than its face value. One forward thinking aspect of the law is that it requires to U.S. Mint to tie the research to actual production numbers, as opposed to hypothetical figures. The U.S. Mint has two years to complete the research and report back to the subcommittee.

H.R.6166 also includes two technical changes to the law that will affect collectors. One change allows the U.S. Mint to change size of the planchet used for the National Park Bullion Program from 3-inches to a size between 2.5 and 3-inches. This will help the U.S. Mint deal with technical issues that has delayed the issue of the five ounce bullion coins.

For fans of the American Eagle proof programs, a wording change in the law allows the U.S. Mint to divert gold and silver to meet the demand for numismatic collectible coins. The change does not set minimum or maximum limits of coins struck but it will prevent future gaps in our collections.

Speaking of the American Eagle program, the Senate also passed the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (H.R.6166). The bill was introduced by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) in support of the primary support of palladium mining in Montana where 95-percent of all United States palladium deposits are. The new law will add a one-ounce .9995 fine palladium bullion coin to the American Eagle Bullion Program. The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal were design by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

When the same bill passes both houses of congress, the bill is formally enrolled by being printed in the Congressional Record and printed on archival paper before being sent to the White House for the president’s signature. President Obama is expected to sign both bills when the paperwork makes it way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

1938 Mercury Dime image is owned by the author.
Image of the 1907 AIA Medal copied from Architecture: celebrating the past, designing the future by Nancy B. Solomon.

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