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Palladium coin bill introduced

A bill to authorize the Mint to produce a .995 fine one-ounce ultra-high-relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle bullion coin in palladium metal was introduced April 1 by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as Senate bill S. 758.

The bill requires that “the obverse and reverse of the coins minted and issued” bear a familiar design: “exact replicas of the original obverse and reverse designs by Augustus Saint-Gaudens which appear on the famous 27-millimeter version of the 1907 double eagle ultra-high-relief gold piece.”

Included in this specification: “the edge of the coin shall have all appropriate raised lettering in the same manner as the original coin.”

No fractional ounce size issues are permitted under terms of the legislation.

The legislation also mandates that “if a gold bullion coin that bears the same design as the ultra-high-relief numismatic coins is issued,” each palladium coin “may only be issued in a set containing 1 of each such coins.”

Congress wants it done its way: “each set of coins … shall be provided in a presentation case of appropriate design,” and may only be issued and sold in the year of passage.

The legislation prohibits the striking of the bullion coin at West Point, N.Y., while at the same time mandating that the collector versions be struck at West Point.

Palladium is in the platinum group of precious metals and it has a volatile history over the last three decades as it looks for its place in the precious metals universe (see accompanying chart). Its high point came in 2001 when it briefly rose above $1,000 an ounce. Its price was $219 per troy ounce April 3.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is co-sponsor. In an April 3 press release, both senators advocated the coin whose metal would come from the Stillwater Mine located in Montana. It is the only palladium mine in the United States.

Producing this coin will help create good-paying jobs and help steer us out of this economic downturn, the release noted.

The legislation notes that Tonga commenced issuing palladium coins in 1967 and other issuing countries have included Canada, the Soviet Union, France, Russia, China, Australia and Slovakia. Today, it says, only Canada mints palladium bullion coins. The attraction of an American palladium bullion coin to Congress and the marketplace: price afford ability. Platinum currently is $1,155 an ounce.

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