A Peek Into The American Platinum Eagles

Platinum is one of the rarest metals with an average abundance of 0.005 ppm (parts per million) on the Earth’s crust. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum accounting for 80% of world’s total production. Platinum is classified among the most valuable precious metals world over. Is malleable and ductile and has a silvery-white appearance in its pure form, which makes it appropriate for use in making jewelry. In addition to jewelry, platinum is widely used in devices for vehicle emission control, electrodes, spark plugs, turbine engines and drugs to fight against cancer among other uses. Platinum also plays a significant role in investments as well as in analytical laboratories as a catalyst.

The American Platinum Eagle is the official platinum coin first released by the U.S mint in the year 1997. The coin comes in various specifications starting from 1/10, ¼, ½ and 1 troy ounce coins. Among the American Platinum Eagles, the 1/10 troy ounce coin has the least value, has a diameter of 16.5 mm, 0.95 mm thickness, and weighs 3.112 grams. This coin has a face value of $ 10. The ¼ troy oz coin has a diameter of 22 mm, 1.32 mm thick and weighs 7.78 grams, commanding a face value of $25. On the other hand, the ½ troy coin is 27 mm in diameter, a thickness of 1.75 mm and weighs 15.56 grams. The face value of the 1 troy oz bullion has the highest face value at $100, with a diameter of 32.7 mm, a thickness of 2.39 mm and a weight of 31.12 grams. One peculiar aspect to note about bullion coins is that the legal face value is far less than the real intrinsic value of the platinum used.

The series experienced an unusual pause from the years 2009 to 2013. Due to high demand for gold and silver bullion coins, the US Mint suspended production of the platinum bullion pieces. During this time, numismatic versions continued to be produced, but there was no product to satisfy investment demand. After more than five years, bullion production was finally resumed although only the one ounce sized coins would be struck.

Follow Up To a Turbulent Year

Precious metals prices experienced a turbulent year in 2011 with both a dramatic rise and fall. This brought a great deal of attention to the alternative investment class and also some speculation about what the future may hold.

During 2010, the price of silver had risen by an impressive 80%. The gains continued in early 2011, with silver quickly rising by another 60% and reaching nearly $50 per ounce. After that point, the price crumbled, quickly dropping to $35 and later falling below $30 per ounce.

The price of gold had risen by a more modest 28% in 2010, marking its tenth consecutive annual gain. In 2011, the price of gold following the trajectory of silver, spiking in the summer months to $1,900 per ounce. After a quick drop and rebound, prices receded as low as $1,600 per ounce, where they are likely to finish the year.

The rapid rise in prices was underpinned by strong demand for physical precious metals. This was apparent in the US Mint’s American Eagle bullion coin program, which sold more than one million ounces worth of gold and more than 40 million ounces of silver.

The release dates for both the 2012 Silver Eagle and 2012 Gold Eagle have been announced as January 3, 2012. On this date, authorized purchasers can place their initial orders for delivery of the newly dated coins. Many coin collectors and precious metals investors look forward to these new releases each year to add to their collections or holdings.

As opposed to some earlier years, the US Mint seems to have resolved many of the production issues that had sometimes led to suspensions or rationing of the popular bullion coins. As such, initial sales levels should provide a good indication of whether strong demand for physical precious metals will continue, potentially supporting higher market prices in the coming year.

Save the Denomination, But Not the Date

The Buffalo Nickel is one of the most popular and iconic United States coin series. It is beloved by collectors for its wonderful images of a Native American chief and American Bison, colloquially referred to as a “buffalo”. The series was introduced in 1913, but changes were quickly made to the design.

Originally the coins displayed a composite portrait of three aged Native American chiefs, Iron Tail, Two Moons, and John Big Tree. The resulting portrait was an image that could not be identified to any single tribe and represented one of the few realistic depictions of a Native American at the time. Previously the allegorical figure of Liberty had been incongruously portrayed with a headdress, leading to the association if not appearance. The date would appeared on the chief’s shoulder, which was a raised area of the coin.

The reverse includes a buffalo standing on a raised mound, thus the name Buffalo Nickel. The model was supposedly Black Diamond of the Central Park Zoo. The inscriptions “United States of America” and “E Pluribus Unum” appear above. The denomination as “Five Cents” appears on the raised area of the mount.

Before the completion of the first year of issue, it was noted that the denomination would eventually wear off in circulation due to its placement. This would not be a desirable result, so the design was modified. The area on which the buffalo stands was made recessed, with the words “Five Cents” protected within.The problem was solved.

Oddly, the placement of the date was not changed. In time many Buffalo Nickels would become dateless, since the digits would wear away in circulation. Today, some collectors can restore the missing dates with acid treatment.

The Problem of Large Cents

After fifty years of production, the United States Mint faced up to the mounting problems of the one cent denomination. They were increasingly unpopular with the public due to their size and weight. The coins were often considered filthy. Because the coins were not legal tender, they were often rejected by banks who would only accept silver and gold coinage. Sometimes the cents were accepted but only at a discounted rate. Finally, the rising cost of copper had made the large cent unprofitable for the mint to produce. It cost about $1.06 to produce 100 cents.

A number of different allows were considered as a way of correcting the problem. This included so called German silver, consisting of copper, nickel, zinc, tin, and antimony; billon, consisting of 10% silver and 90% copper; and various alloys of nickel, copper and zinc. The Mint Director eventually decided on an alloy of 88% copper and 12% nickel. This composition would be used for the newly introduced Flying Eagle Cent.

A relatively large number of 1856 dated pattern coins for the new composition, size, and format were produced to show to Congress and other influential individuals. The design and format proved acceptable and the coins were produced for circulation in the following year. The series was produced for just two years in 1857 and 1858. The Mint also restruck a relatively large number of 1856 Flying Eagle Cents for collectors. This issue, technically a pattern, became collected like a regular issue of the series.

The series continued to be struck for circulation for two more years, before a new design was adopted.

Popular and Unique Gold Coin Design

In the early twentieth century, President Roosevelt grew weary of the designs for circulating American coins. Most had not experienced an update in more than a generation and were similar across denominations. Through his efforts a series of changes were made which updated designs from the smallest to largest denominations.

In 1908, the design for the $2.50 Quarter Eagle was changed. Before then, the same design had been in used since the 1830′s. The new version of the coin was created by Bela Lyon Pratt and remains unique in American coinage for the use of an incused design. Rather than having design elements raised above the surface of the coin, they are instead impressed into the coin.

The Indian Quarter Eagle was minted from 1908 to 1915, and then from 1925 to 1929. The obverse features an Indian chief with a ceremonial headdress. Thirteen stars, Liberty, and the date surround the image. The reverse features a perched eagle with a bundle of arrows and olive branch. As mentioned the design is sunken into the surface of the coin.

Although not initially popular with the public, the coin has become popular with collectors as an approachable classic gold series.

A Series Concluded Before Its Time

The Franklin Half Dollar coin series replaced the prior Walking Liberty series starting in 1948. Many thought it was fitting to recognize this important American on a circulating coin. Collectors who preferred the beauty of the prior series, perhaps overlooked the new series at first.

The coin featured a portrait of Benjamin Franklin and the Liberty Bell of Philadelphia on the reverse. A tiny Bald Eagle also appears to the right of the eagle to satisfy the legal requirement to include it on the half dollar denomination. The coin was designed by John R. Sinnock, who was the Chief Sculptor Engraver of the United States Mint.

When the series began, it was expected to run for at least 25 years due to the laws in effect at the time. This would have allowed the Franklin Half to continue until at least 1972. Tragic events took place that changed the plans.

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there was an immediate idea to memorialize him on a newly designed coin. Legislation was passed at the end of 1963 to authorize the new coin and overturn the requirement for a 25 year series duration. The Kennedy Half Dollar was released in 1964 and immediately popular with the American public.

The Kennedy series has continued to the current day, giving the series a duration of nearly 50 years!

Old Designs on New Coins

Some of the most popular coin designs were creating during a time that many people refer to as the Renaissance in American coinage. In recent year, the United States Mint has been reusing these popular old designs in lieu of creating new designs for our generation.

The first such instance occured when Congress passed laws creating new bullion coin programs. These gold and silver coins would contain a stated weight in bullion and have their content and purity guaranteed by the government. The program was in response to the popular gold and silver bullion coin programs launched by other world mints.

The American Gold Eagle coin resurrected the design used on Augustus Saint Gauden’s $20 Gold Double Eagle. A new reverse was prepared for the coin, however. The American Silver Eagle used the design from Adolph A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty Half Dollar. This coin was minted from 1916 to 1947.

Another popular design that was later reused twice was the Buffalo Nickel design. This was used on a commemorative coin issued in 2001 and a new 24 karat gold bullion series launched in 2006.

Will there be any classic designs created by our era that future generations reuse in their coinage? Or will we always refer back to the Renaissance in American coinage for designs of beauty?