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Rooting for the U.S. team in Berlin

It was good to see U.S. Mint staff in Berlin to attend the World Money Fair.

Rhett Jeppson of the U.S. Mint takes home the Coin of the Year Award.

Rhett Jeppson of the U.S. Mint takes home the Coin of the Year Award.

I would like to think picking up the Coin of the Year Award provided at least some incentive for Rhett Jeppson, the principal deputy director, to be present. He certainly deserves the spotlight among his peers at this show.

Nowhere else in the world can you find such concentrated numismatic activity at all levels from typical bourse transactions to high level meetings of policy makers and marketers.

Like it or not, America’s taxpayers need to support the Mint’s presence. It is a significant player in the bullion field with the American Eagle and American Buffalo bullion coins, but it could be so much more internationally. The American brand is held in high regard.

For example, the Mint has been struggling the last two years to get its platinum Eagle bullion program going again following its suspension after 2008.

In 2014 the one-ounce platinum coin returned to the bullion market. Sales were 16,900 coins. In 2015 problems prevented sales of any bullion platinum coins.

I have commented that it hardly seems worth the effort to have a program especially since collectors and investors are so unfamiliar with platinum generally. It has not historically been a coinage metal and it has often been an also-ran as a result.

However, when I was in Berlin I attended the Austrian Mint’s announcement of a new one-ounce platinum coin to join its gold and silver Philharmonic line.

If Austria sees opportunity in platinum, I respect their marketers and their analysis and will revise my opinion of the market for platinum bullion coins. The U.S. Mint should use its marketing muscle and Authorized Purchaser network to take a significant share of the platinum market.

Perhaps there is a touch of patriotism in the previous paragraph, but I am pleased to see the high status achieved by the other bullion coins the Mint produces.

At this point, platinum is basically a given. Where Berlin excels is the opportunity to nose around and catch the scent of the future. Who knows where it will lead? But the only way to find out is to be present.

I cannot tell you how often in the past I have been asked why the Mint did not attend in the years it was absent. These questions do not spring from a desire to be sociable. I can only infer that business opportunities might have been present each time.

The European market seems to appreciate American commemoratives even more than we do here in the United States. Perhaps an appropriate marketing alliance would increase sales. Surcharge recipients would also gain by this.

For those who wish to see the U.S. cent continue to be struck and the nickel to be made of its historical alloy, rooting for additional sales and profits for the Mint overseas will help offset losses on the two lowly denominations and benefit taxpayers. Whether it is rooting for flag, coinage continuity, or just the home team, I think the U.S. Mint needs to be in Berlin.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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