The Platinum American Eagle coins were an addition to the American Eagle bullion program to satisfy the needs of the domestic platinum mining industry. Work to create the program began in 1995 with Platinum Guild International Executive Director Jacques Luben working with Director of the United States Mint Philip N. Diehl and American Numismatic Association President David L. Ganz to pursue the appropriate legislation.
As with a lot of legislation, it was added to an omnibus appropriations bill (Public Law 104-208 in Title V) passed on September 30, 1996. Since the bill was necessary to keep the government functioning, it was signed by President Bill Clinton that same day.
The first platinum coins were issued in 1997.
Platinum American Eagle coins are the only bullion coins struck by the U.S. Mint that use a different reverse design for the proof coins than the uncirculated bullion coins. The reverse of the proof coins featured different themes that have largely gone unnoticed by collectors. Beginning in 2018, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence series will introduce all new designs for both the obverse and reverse of the proof coin.
American Platinum Eagle Design
The obverse design of the American Platinum Eagle features a front-facing view of the Statue of Liberty from the shoulders designed by John Mercanti. Mercanti also designed the obverse of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Commemorative Silver Dollar.
The reverse features a bald eagle soaring above the earth with a rising sun in the background. It was designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr. The reverse also includes the weight of the coin and its denomination.
The reverse designs of the proof coins were by different artists and discussed below.
American Platinum Eagle Coins are offered in four different sizes with each size being of different legal tender face value. The different coins are as follows:
- One-ounce American Platinum Eagle: $100 face value, is 32.7 mm in diameter, contains one troy ounce of platinum and weighs 1.0005 troy ounces,
- One-half ounce American Platinum Eagle: $50 face value, is 27 mm in diameter, contains 0.5000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.5003 troy ounce,
- One-quarter ounce American Platinum Eagle: $25 face value, is 22 mm in diameter, contains 0.2500 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.2501 troy ounce,
- One-tenth ounce American Platinum Eagle: $10 face value, is 16.5 mm in diameter, contains 0.1000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.1001 troy ounce.
All coins are struck with reeded edges.
Each coin is made from .9995 platinum. The composition is comprised of 99.95% platinum and 0.05% of an unspecified metal, likely copper. American Platinum Eagle coins are produced so that each size contains its stated weight in pure platinum. This means that the coins are heavier than their pure platinum weight to account for the other metals in the alloy.
Bullion American Platinum Eagle Coins
The American Platinum Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.
Although some people do collect bullion coins there are not produced for the collector market. As with other investments, American Platinum Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold and may be held in Individual Retirement accounts. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.
Bullion coins of all four weights were struck from 1997-2008. Beginning in 2014, the U.S. Mint has only struck the one-ounce $100 American Platinum Eagle for the bullion market.
Collector American Platinum Eagle Coins
Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Platinum Eagle are different from other coins in the American Eagle series in that every year they are produced the U.S. Mint struck them in different designs and are only available as proof strikes.
In addition to the changing designs, the U.S. Mint sold uncirculated coins with a burnished (satin) finish using the design of the business (bullion) coins were struck 2006-2008 at West Point in all four weights.
The collector American Platinum Eagle may be one of the most under-appreciated series of coins produced by the U.S. Mint. Since its introduction in 1997, the U.S. Mint has produced four series of proof coins with the reverse honoring different aspects of the nation with plans for two more beginning in 2018 and 2021.
What distinguishes these coins are the well-executed reverse designs that few get to see or pay attention. It may be difficult for the average collector to consider collecting these coins because of the price of platinum has been either on par or higher than the price of gold. Also, platinum is not as well regarded as gold or silver as a precious metal causing it to be overlooked.
Following the proof coins issued in 1997 with the design used on the bullion coin, the reverse design has featured the following themes:
- Vistas of Liberty Reverse Designs (1998-2003):
- 1998 Eagle Over New England
- 1999 Eagle Above Southeastern Wetlands
- 2000 Eagle Above America’s Heartland
- 2001 Eagle Above America’s Southwest
- 2002 Eagle Fishing in America’s Northwest
- 2003 Eagle Perched on Rocky Mountain Pine Branch
- 2004 Proof reverse design: Daniel Chester French’s “America” that sits before the U.S. Customs House in New York City.
- 2005 Proof reverse Design: Heraldic Eagle
- Branches of Government Series:
- 2006 “Legislative Muse” representing Legislative Branch
- 2007 “American Bald Eagle” representing Executive Branch
- 2008 “Lady Justice” representing Judicial Branch
- Preamble Series (2009–2014):
- 2009 “To Form a More Perfect Union”
- 2010 “To Establish Justice”
- 2011 “To Insure Domestic Tranquility”
- 2012 “To Provide for the Common Defence”
- 2013 “To Promote the General Welfare”
- 2014 “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity”
- Nations Core Values (2015-2016):
- 2015 “Liberty Nurtures Freedom”
- 2016 “Liberty and Freedom”
- 2017 depicted the original reverse designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr.
Beginning in 2018, the U.S. Mint will introduce two themes that will feature new obverse designs with a new common reverse with the following themes:
- 2018-2020 Preamble to the Declaration of Independence Series
- 2018 “Life”
- 2019 “Liberty”
- 2020 “Pursuit of Happiness”
- 2021-2025 Five Freedoms Guaranteed Under the First Amendment Series
- 2021 “Freedom of Religion,”
- 2022 “Freedom of Speech,”
- 2023 “Freedom of the Press,”
- 2024 “Freedom to assemble peaceably,”
- 2025 “Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”
Tenth Anniversary American Platinum Eagle Set
As part of the Tenth Anniversary of the American Platinum Eagle, the U.S. Mint issued a special set to celebrate this milestone. The set featured two one-half ounce platinum proof coins using the American Bald Eagle design representing Executive Branch by Thomas Cleveland and was struck at the West Point Mint. One was struck as a standard proof with mirrored fields and frosted designs. The other was struck as a reverse proof with mirrored designs and frosted fields.
The set was announced November 2007 and scheduled to go on sale in mid-December. and remain on sale until December 31, 2008, with several interruptions.
During the sale, the price of platinum greatly fluctuated. At one point the price of platinum was greater than the price of the set. The U.S. Mint had suspended the sale of the coins in February 2008. They were priced higher when they were offered for sale again a month later. Sales were suspended again when the price of platinum fell dramatically. When the coins were brought back for sale, their final price was less than the set’s initial offer price.
Although the U.S. Mint set a maximum mintage of 30,000 sets, the final sales figure showed they sold 19,583 sets.
2007 “Frosted Freedom” Variety
For a very low production series that is handled differently than other coins, it is unusual for there to be a variety or error. In 2011, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation announced that they certified a variety that was given the name “Frosted Freedom.”
On the proof strike of the 2007 American Platinum Eagle coin with the bald eagle design to celebrate the executive branch of the government, there is a shield in front of the eagle’s breast. Draped across the shield is a ribbon with the word “FREEDOM”. On the coins issued in 2007, the incuse word “FREEDOM” has the same mirrored finish as found on the coin’s fields. On the variety found by NGC, the word appears frosted with the same finish found on the coin’s raised devices.
In a statement by the U.S. Mint, these coins were pre-production strikes that had been inadvertently released into the production stream. They were struck to verify the look of the coin.
According to the U.S, Mint, the total number of “Frosted Freedom” coins potentially distributed to collectors includes 12 one-ounce coins, 21 half-ounce coins, and 21 quarter-ounce coins. As this is being written, only two one-ounce, one half-ounce, and one quarter-ounce coin have been certified by the major grading services.
In our next installment, we look at the American Palladium Eagles.
McCain’s story of his stay at the infamous Hanoi Hilton has been long discussed and written about in the books he authored. He served as legislative liaison for the Pentagon to Congress before being elected to the House of Representatives from Arizona’s First District in 1982. After two terms in Congress, he ran for the seat that was being vacated by the retiring Barry Goldwater. McCain would go on to win five elections to the Senate before his passing.
John McCain was a true American Hero. What made him a bigger hero was that he was imperfect and stood up when he was wrong and took ownership of his mistakes. Something the colleagues he leaves behind in Congress should learn from.
To add a numismatic theme, military orders and medals are part of exonumia. To honor the late John McCain, here is a list of medals he earned during his service in the U.S. Navy:
- Silver Star Medal
- Legion of Merit with Combat “V” device and Star
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Three Bronze Star Medals; all three with Combat “V” device and the second two with stars
- Two Purple Heart Medals; the second with a star
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Two Navy Air Medals; the first with a bronze star and the second with a Strike/Flight numeral “2” device
- Two Navy Commendation Medals; both with Combat “V” device
- Navy Combat Action Ribbon
- Navy Unit Commendation
- Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Two National Defense Service Medals; the second with a star
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Three Vietnam Service Medals; the second and third with stars
- Republic of Vietnam National Order of Vietnam—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government, it was the highest honor that can be bestowed on a non-military official by South Vietnam
- Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government for valor in combat
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device—Awarded by the South Vietnamese government for wartime service
A Combat “V” device is an award for Valor. These are given to those who earned the award for their service during battle. Stars are awarded when a medal is awarded more than once. The Strike/Flight numeral “2” device is awarded to service members whose award was earned during aerial combat.
As for the legislative update, August in Washington, D.C. is very hot and humid. Those of us who live in the area dread this month. Aside from the weather, it is the slowest month for everything. On the plus side, it is the month where we see less severe traffic as residents flee the area for their last summer fling. All that ends at the end of the month when it becomes time to get ready for the school year.
Congress usually takes off in August. If they are not campaigning for reelection, they are spending time at home. This year was different. There were a few floor sessions but the committees seemed to have a few hearings. While it is normal for committees to meet when there are no floor sessions, it is unusual for it to happen in August.
Other than having all members of Congress in town for John McCain’s funeral, there was no numismatic legislation to report for this month. With mid-term elections predicted to be contentious, it will be interesting to see if Congress will tackle anything that is not necessary between now and Election Day.
There is always something in numismatics that can be used to teach us about history. This past week it was reported that Russian archeologists found a rare “beard kopek.” It was a coin that men had to buy if they wanted to remain unshaven under the rule of Peter the Great.
Peter rose to power at the age of 17 in 1689, but the arcane succession rules of Russia did not allow him to actually rule until his mother died in 1694. Then, he had to be co-ruler with his brother Ivan V until Ivan died in 1696. That is when Peter took over.
Once Peter became the sole czar he implemented sweeping reforms to modernize Russia. He thought that in order to become a power similar to those of Western Europe, Russian society had to evolve. Using western advisors and his command of the military, he forced reforms on the country including violently suppressing uprisings by those who did not agree with him.
To enforce his idea of modernization, he introduced western dress to his court and required all government officials to adopt this more modern style of dress. Robes and beards were no longer accepted under Peter’s rule. In order to enforce his idea, Peter began to levy taxes on people who would not comply. If you wanted to keep your beard you had to pay a tax. Once you paid a tax you would be required to carry around a token saying that you paid the tax.
The copper token found in Russia was one of those beard tax tokens. It has an image of a beard and mustache with the words “Money Paid” (in Russian) surrounded by a beaded border. If you wanted to keep your facial hair, you paid the tax and had to carry around the token as proof.
Reports claim that this is only the second known Beard Tax token to exist with the other one being in The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. However, a silver version of the token was sold by Heritage Auctions in September 2017 as part of the Long Beach Expo World Coins Signature auction. The hammer price for that token was $3,000.
Even if there were two more found, it would still be a rare token!
And now the news…
Aaron Coulson was given the silver coin in a Sutton Coldfield pub – and thinks it's worth at least £100 → Read more at birminghammail.co.uk
In 1698, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, as he would come to be know, was waging a war on beards. In an attempt to modernize his empire and make it more like the west after spending years exploring Europe in disguise, Peter instituted a tax on facial hair. → Read more at popularmechanics.com
The United States Mint has issued an open call for artists to design the nation’s coins and medals as part of its its Artistic Infusion Program. The government is particularly interested in artists who will “bring innovative perspectives and utilize symbolism in their work to clearly and evocatively convey subjects and themes,” according to the program’s press release. → Read more at news.artnet.com
AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) – Attention all Maine artists: The Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services has an important job for you. They're looking for an artist to design a coin for post-Vietnam War and peacetime veterans. → Read more at wabi.tv
A MAN uncovered a horde of Roman coins buried in farmland. Allan Hughes, of Wrexham, found five silver Denarii coins dating back nearly 2,000 years while out searching with a metal detector on arable land in Cockshutt, near Ellesmere. → Read more at leaderlive.co.uk
The South African government is considering a range of initiatives to increase the demand for platinum-group metals (PGMs), including the development of a Mandela Platinum Coin. The proposal to develop a Mandela Platinum Coin is based on the international success achieved by the Kruger Rand, South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said at the Africa Downunder conference, in Perth. → Read more at miningweekly.com
A First Century silver Roman coin uncovered on land in Shropshire has been declared treasure trove at an inquest. → Read more at shropshirestar.com
Every coin minted by the U.S. Mint is legal tender and are legally an instrument of the government. Although the Trade dollar was demonetized in 1876, it was remonetized as part of the Coinage Act of 1965 making it legal tender (31 U.S.C. § 5103) for trade in the United States. This means that it is legal to spend an 1873 Trade Dollar for $1 of goods and services even though the coin is worth more than its face value.
To protect its currency, the United States has anti-counterfeiting laws that makes it illegal to counterfeit the nation’s money and use in commerce. For collectible coins and currency congress passed and has since updated the the Hobby Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 2101 et. seq.). These laws protect the money supply when it is a collectible and not an instrument of commerce.
In the United States, laws are cumulative. Once passed, they remain the law until repealed or declared unconstitutional by the courts. This is not the way in many other countries. In many countries, when a new government takes power they are given the authority to rewrite the laws. It is expected to happen within authoritarian governments but it is common in many parliamentary democracies.
The People’s Republic of China has been run by the Communist Party since 1949. Their rules and laws have changed significantly when the Communist Party came into power. One of their first rules was to demonetize the money produced by the Republic of Chin and issued renminbi, the “people’s currency.”
Since then, it has been the practice of the chairman of the Communist Party to demonetize non-current issues of coins and currency as part of their economic control policies. Based on the current Chinese economic system, all coins struck since 1955, the first issued under the current government, are legal tender. Currency printed since 1999, the fifth series is the only legal tender notes. Any other coin or currency note has been demonetized.
Under Chinese anti-counterfeiting laws, it is illegal to duplicate any legal tender coin or currency note for any reason. However, since coinage from previous regimes is no longer legal tender, it is legal to strike coins with those designs. Chinese laws do not recognize the collection of these coins as a market to protect.Buying and selling coins as an object is a matter of commerce between individuals and not something that requires protection under Chinese law. While the Chinese buyer can use the obsolete coin as an object of barter, bartering does not hold the same legal status as paying with legal tender currency. Basically, once coins are demonetized, just about anything goes.
Chinese law does not recognize the perpetual legal tender status of every coin issued. Chinese law also recognizes that counterfeiting current issues of other countries is also illegal because someone could try to use the coin in commerce where it is legal to use foreign currency. This means that in China, it would be illegal to reproduce a presidential dollar or Washington quarter, but producing Morgan dollars or a set of 1921 Walking Liberty half-dollars is legal in China because these are coins no longer issued in the United States.
When China is asked to assist the United States to stop the counterfeiting of coins, China does not recognize that its people are doing anything wrong. The coins are no longer being made, they are not in circulation, and their laws allow people to make copies of these coins. The only laws that China has regarding collectibles are laws protecting antiquities and cultural properties. This means that you cannot duplicate a Ming Dynasty vase and try to pass it off as real but it is legal to reproduce a Rembrandt masterpiece since he is not Chinese and his work was not made in China.
A trade attorney that was originally consulted for this article confirmed that when it comes to these issues, Chinese law is very protectionist. The claim is that they follow their laws consistently regardless of outside circumstances and they refuse to make exceptions citing the complication with enforcing their laws in a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion people.Making the problem more difficult, copying and counterfeiting of grading service holders are also not covered by Chinese law because they are not made by government entities. The grading services would have to fight the counterfeiters using Chinese patent and copyright law. A patent attorney confirmed that not only would this not stop the problem, but foreign challenges to alleged patent and copyright violations are rarely successful in Chinese courts.
The Chinese government has no incentive to help the United States or any other country fight counterfeiting in what is perceived by the Chinese as a small market problem. To put the resources necessary into what looks like a petty crime for selling inexpensive, non-circulating duplicate coins that are within Chinese law to manufacture is considered not worth their resources.
While there is anecdotal evidence that the Chinese government knows about the counterfeit trades and some officials informally support the efforts because they get kickbacks, official Chinese policy denies there is a problem.
A lot has been written about the nature of the relationship between the United States and China since President Richard Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. Neither side trusts each other nor does neither side believe each other. Today, the United States decries the Chinese for buying too much of our debt, allegations of spying, industrial espionage, and cyber crimes. The Chinese say that the United States is trying to bully the world and that these naysayers are making up the stories to scare the world into following them. The United States talks about civil rights violations within the Chinese border and the Chinese government tells the United States to mind its own business.
The greater opening of markets between the country and the increase in popularity of bullion coins has made the Chinese Panda a popular coin amongst collectors and investors. Those of us who buy these coins know that even with the production increases since 2010 new issues continue to command a premium greater than other bullion coins.
While the Chinese are happy to sell coins and be the factory to the United States, there remains an underlying tone of political and commercial hostility between the nations. A trade attorney said that the Chinese would rather keep the relationship to business between the countries that the United States should stay out of China’s domestic policy. It was explained that the Chinese central government was upset over how the United States passed judgment over companies in their high tech electronic manufacturing sector because these companies are doing better and are safer than other Chinese manufacturers. To the Chinese government, it is not a problem if a few workers die for whatever reason. There is an ample supply from the population to keep the plants running.
These are the values of the Chinese government. Whether you agree with them or not, Communist Party officials will resent anyone telling them how to manage their domestic affairs. They want advice about how to treat their citizens as much as the United States wants similar advice from China.
There is no incentive for China to stop the manufacture of counterfeit collectible coins.
It is not against Chinese law for these people to manufacture coins that are no longer in production. Chinese people who are manufacturing these coins are working in China and many employ other people. It means there are fewer people relying on assistance the Chinese government provides. Since they now have incomes, it provides revenues for the tax coffers.
When a United States trade representatives negotiate with their Chinese counterparts, it gives the Chinese a chance to lecture the United States how they resolved the counterfeiting issues which leads to a discussion on currency handling and management, which is a sore subject in the United States since the United States questions Chinese monetary policies.
Finally, it gives China a measure of moral superiority against the United States. After all, China figured out a way to prevent the impact of counterfeiting of older currency, why can’t the United States do the same?
China has no incentive to help the United States to solve a problem that they perceive does not exist. It is up to the United States to resolve these issues. This is why the industry promoted the Collectible Coin Protection Act (Public Law No: 113-288) so that law enforcement has an additional tool to use to help prosecute handlers of counterfeit coins in the United States.
On Monday, the U.S. Mint announced that on September 3, they will begin accepting applications for the Artistic Infusion Program. Judging by the last round of artwork submitted to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to review for the new American Innovation $1 Coin, they need the help.
For those who did not read the stories, the U.S. Mint submitted a design for the obverse that is supposed to be “a likeness of the Statue of Liberty extending to the rim of the coin and large enough to provide a dramatic representation of Liberty,” similar to the reverse of the Presidential $1 coins. According to reports, the U.S. Mint claimed that they could not work on a better design because of time constraints.
Time constraints are a legitimate issue. The bill was signed into law on July 20, 2018, leaving the U.S. Mint less than six months until the program begins in 2019. However, that does not mean that the program has to begin on January 2. In fact, the law does not specify at what point during the year that the coins are to be produced.
They also could have anticipated their responsibility. Once the bill was passed by the Senate on June 20, it was only a matter of time that the difference between the House and Senate versions were resolved before being signed by the president. It was not a surprise. They had two months to come up with something prior to the CCAC meeting.
Although U.S. Mint Director David Ryder has not been on the job long, he has to take responsibility for not providing the leadership necessary to impress on the artists and whoever directed them not to try to take the easy way out. If they have not learned by now, most of the CCAC members take their jobs much more seriously than previous committees (this is a good thing) and are very outspoken in a very constructive manner.
One person that should respond to this call for artists is current CCAC member Heidi Wastweet. An accomplished medalist and sculptor, her term with the CCAC is about to expire. She is well qualified since her work is phenomenal! You can see for yourself on her website. Imagine what an artist with her talent and knowing what the CCAC is looking for can add to the U.S. Mint.
Having never met Ms. Wastweet, I am not in a position to try to talk her into applying. However, if you are acquainted with her, please let her know that not only would it be of great service to the U.S. Mint but that she has at least one endorsement—for whatever that is worth!
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