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What’s platinum’s place?

Should the United States begin striking platinum American Eagle bullion coins again?

They were victims of the financial crisis when the Mint hunkered down to focus on demand for gold and silver American Eagles.

Since their elimination after the 2008 issue, collectors, the few that there are, have had to content themselves with the annual proof one-ounce coin.

The fact that only 9,459 2012 platinum proofs have been sold shows this is probably not a big growth area, but on the other hand, demand for the gold proof American Eagle and Buffalo coins is in a downtrend.

So, should the Mint crank out bullion platinum coins again to feed into the investor market?

If the Mint follows the trend of other modern mints, it will do so. In the present environment more always seems to trump standing pat or trimming the number of offerings.

The baseball card market collapse of the 1990s is instructive insofar as it would seem to be an example of the likely outcome of a proliferation of coin issues, but the American new coin market has not reached that point yet.

Short of a collapse, will marketers rein in their desire for new coins to market?

Being an old-fashioned collector, I lean toward limiting the number of new issues and using that as a rationale for not going back to platinum.

But whether this is nostalgia on my part rather than sound economic analysis is something the Mint will have to figure out before it sets out again on the platinum bullion coin path.

One thing, though, standard issue platinum bullion coins might be the best antidote to silly suggestions for creating $1 trillion platinum coins to evade the debt ceiling.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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