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Give collectors first shot at palladium

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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With all of the problems the Mint has had launching the America the Beautiful silver bullion coin series in 2010, how will it do starting the one-ounce palladium bullion coin that Congress mandated late last year?

Could it be a do-over opportunity that would have been nice with the ATB series? I hope so.

It would be a much better story line than wondering if the Mint has to buy another special German coining press, or whether enough planchets will be available.

2011 U.S. Coin Digest: Bullion Coinage
2011 U.S. Coin Digest: Bullion Coinage
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The Mint has caught one big break with the palladium coin: attention on silver and gold bullion coins is so high now that palladium will fly under the radar for a good long while. But, that was true last year for the ATB coins. It really wasn’t until the Mint announced that it would strike 100,000 of each ATB design in September that we collectors started to get antsy. I hope the Mint uses its time wisely.

Are you dreaming about acquiring your first palladium coin? Certainly outside of private medallions, there is little opportunity for coin collectors to even know what the metal looks like. Tongan pieces are usually mentioned to serve as an example of coins made of palladium, but the coins of that nation are not exactly front and center.

How will collectors respond to the design? The law says it must be the A.A. Weinman design that was used on the Mercury dime of 1916-1945. That’s a very good choice if the idea is to achieve instant recognition among likely buyers. The U.S. government seems determined to raid the cupboard of old designs for its bullion coins, platinum excepted, and this isn’t a bad one to choose. No collector of my acquaintance has ever said anything bad about the Mercury design.

Some collectors do like to point out that it is incorrect to call the Mercury dime a Mercury dime. It is more accurately called the Winged Liberty Head, but most of my readers will scratch their heads if I begin writing about Winged Liberty Head palladium bullion coins.

As far as the Mint is concerned in trying to persuade a buyer to plunk down $832 plus whatever the mark-up is to buy a new coin, teasing him or her with lectures about proper names is not the way to go.
On the other hand, if the Mint wants to try to kill interest in the coin to prevent surging demand from overwhelming limited supply, then calling the palladium bullion coin a Winged Liberty Head design might just do it. It might so confuse hobbyists that they will throw up their hands and go back to chasing the silver and gold American Eagles they are familiar with.

Perhaps the Mint can learn something from the ATB imbroglio. Perhaps the first palladium bullion coins should be sold just to collectors during the first year through the Mint’s website. This will in part make amends for the ATB, but it would put collectors in the position of being the first to own one and that is something every collector enjoys.

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