Entries from June 2008 ↓

Star Spangled Banner Commemorative Proposed

There are a large number of commemorative coin proposals working their way through the US legal system.  The next few posts will examine some of these newly proposed coins.

First up, the Star Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Coin.   This coin would be issued in 2012 to commemorate the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  The legislative Act calls for production of up to 350,000 Silver Dollar coins.  Each coin will have a weight of 26.73 grams, diameter of 1.5 inches, and composition of 90% silver and 10% copper.

Surcharges from the coin would be paid to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.

The design will be representative of the War of 1812, specifically the Battle of Fort McHenry, which was the basis for our National Anthem, the Star Spangled banner.

Currently the coins have been passed by the House of Representatives.  In order to become law, the Act must be passed by the Senate and signed by the president.

More Problems for the 2008 Silver Eagles

Silver EaglesAs readers of this blog will know, there is an ongoing shortage of 2008 Silver Eagle bullion coins.  Early in the year the US Mint actually temporarily suspended sales of the coins to authorized Purchasers.  Following the suspension, the Mint started a policy of rationing the 2008 Silver Eagles to dealers at quantities below market demand.

This caused a bit of outcry, including a widely discussed Wall Street Journal article on the topic.  Also open letters to the US Mint Director and US Secretary of the Treasury from concerned organizations and individuals.

Last week, more problems came to light which will cause the current rationing of Silver Eagles to get even tighter.

The US Mint sent a memorandum to authorized purchasers informing them that the Mint’s supplier of silver blanks used in producing Silver Eagles would be reducing their shipments by more than half.  The Mint further indicated that they would stop using silver blanks for other purposes such as collectible coins.  This is clearly becoming a very serious issue impacting precious metals investors and coin collectors.

Rhodium- The Overlooked Cousin of Platinum

While much attention has been given to the dramatic rise of platinum over the past few years, another metal in the platinum group has risen even more substantially, Rhodium.

From trough to peak, platinum has moved from approximately $400 per ounce to $2,000 per ounce. This represents an increase of 400%. The last leg of the move was spurred by power problems for the South American miners of the metal.

During approximately the same time period, rhodium has moved from $400 per ounce to an incredible $9,400 per ounce. On a percentage basis, that represents an increase of 2,250%!

Rhodium has mostly industrial uses such as its use to make electrical contacts. Rhodium is extremely scare with a worldwide production of only 25 tons.

There don’t seem to be any easy ways for the average individual to have invested in rhodium, except for some custom coins which can sometime be found with rhodium alloys of plating.

Another metal from the platinum group, palladium is expected to be available in coin form from the US Mint in the coming years. So far, palladium has lagged behind rhodium and platinum in price appreciation. However, given the performance of its close cousins, I probably would not be averse to picking some up once it becomes available.

2009 Lincoln Cent Centennial

Next year the Lincoln Cent will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary.  The celebration will include four new reverse designs representing aspects of Lincoln’s life, as well as special collector’s versions of the coins.

The Lincoln Cent was first minted in 1909 to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 100th birthday.  At the time the coin was minted in 95% copper with the balance of the composition in tin and zinc.  The obverse design featured a bust of Lincoln by Vincent D. Brenner, and the reverse featured a pair of “Wheat Ears.”  Because of the reverse design, these coins are sometimes referred to as “wheaties.”

The reverse design was changed in 1959 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln Cent.  The new design featured a rendition of the Lincoln Memorial. Close inspection will also reveal a likeness of the Lincoln Monument within the Memorial.

The festivities prepared for the 2009 Lincoln Cent are numerous.  Primarily the event will be celebrated with four new reverse designs.  These designs are intended to represent major stages of Lincoln’s life: his birth in Kentucky, his formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Iillinios, and his presidency in Washington, D.C.

The reverse design will be changed approximately every three months during 2009.  Starting in 2010, the reverse design will be changed once again to one which is emblematc of Lincoln’s preservation of the United States of America as a unified country.

Collector’s versions of the 2009 Lincoln Cent are also expected to be available.  These will included cents struck in the original composition of 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc.  Proof versions of the coins are also expected to be available in government issued proof sets.

Keep an eye out for additional news, 2009 is fast approaching!

American Platinum Eagles

Platinum EaglesThe Platinum Eagle is one of the American Eagle bullion coins of the United States.  Each coin contains 99.95% fine platinum and is guaranteed by the United States for weight, content, and purity.

The coin series was first offered by the US Mint starting with the 1997 Platinum Eagle.  It was offered in the common one ounce size with a $100 legal tender value.  Alternate denominations were offered with different platinum content amounts and face values.  The $50 coin contains one-half ounce of platinum.  The $25 coin contains one-quarter ounce of platinum.  The $10 coin contains one-tenth ounce of platinum.

Platinum Eagles have been offered in either uncirculated or proof versions.  The proof version has a special cameo finish which includes mirrored background and frosted raised elements.  In 2006, the Mint started offering burnished finish coins.  In 2007, the Mint issued a special reverse proof finish coin.

The obverse design of the coin features the Statue of Liberty as designed by John Mercanti.  The reverse design features a soaring eagle as designed by Thomas D. Rogers.  Since 1998, the proof version of the coin has featured an annually rotating reverse design.