Some things don’t change. Perhaps that is refreshing when many Americans fret that things change too fast.
Legislation calling for a new U.S. palladium bullion coin is following a time honored path of looking to make the U.S. government a major buyer of the metal and giving U.S. Mint workers a little more job security by deliberately mandating the coining work be spread around.
How similar it all is to 1878. That’s when production began for the Morgan silver dollar. The express purpose was to ensure that the government purchased a large quantity of silver bullion under the terms of the Bland-Allison Act.
It just so happened that this legislation authorizing the Treasury secretary to purchase $2 million to $4 million of silver each month to strike dollars was passed by Congress a mere five years after the Coinage Act of 1873, which among other things, abolished the silver dollar.
However, in 1873, the silver in the silver dollar was worth $1. By 1878, the silver in the silver dollar was worth just about 84 cents. The Western mining interests centered on the Comstock Lode in Nevada were panicked.
As their mining output grew, silver prices declined. It also did not help that Germany abandoned silver and adopted the gold standard in 1873, continuing a worldwide process that demoted silver and raised the standing of gold.
Where in 1873 it was logical to abolish a silver dollar that was not used or appreciated, by 1878 it had become the “Crime of 1873.” It was also clear by 1878 that the Trade dollar did not use nearly enough silver to make a difference on the market price. The Mint went to work and produced hundreds of millions of dollar coins that for the most part languished in Treasury vaults until a bunch were melted in 1918, more during World War II and finally the remnants were snapped up by collectors in the 1960s and 1970s.
Western mining interests want a palladium coin. It doesn’t hurt to take production of the bullion coin away from West Point, not that far from New York City, and putting it elsewhere. My money is on San Francisco.
There is the romance of the Old West and you can make more congressmen and senators happy in California as compared to Colorado or Pennsylvania. But that just is my guess.
Perhaps Montana mining interests simply want to cut shipping costs by having the coins produced in Denver.
But isn’t this reassuring? The American lifestyle may be under assault, but Congress is behaving just as it did in 1878 as are our mining interests.
It really is too bad, though, that they couldn’t come up with something equivalent to the Crime of 1873 to justify the new palladium bullion coin. There is just something about that name that makes you want to find out everything you can about it. Wealth. Intrigue. The Old West. Congress.
Who can get the images of stagecoaches out of their heads when they think about it? I can’t.
What do we think about today? First, we have to explain what palladium is to most people. That just doesn’t evoke the romance of the Old West, but I’ll work on it.