Placing the United States Mint one step closer to striking a new precious metal American Eagle, legislation was introduced Wednesday, September 22, 2010, calling for new palladium versions of the coin to be produced.
Referred to as the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, numbered H.R. 6166, the legislation was introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT).
H.R. 6166 places several stipulations on the proposed coins. First, and perhaps most interesting, is the choice of designs to be used on the obverse and reverse of the strike.
[Editor’s Update: H.R. 6166 passed in the House by unanimous consent on September 29, 2010.]
The bill calls for both designs to be based on the work of famed designer Adolph Alexander Weinman, whose name is known well to those who collect coins or is a student of history.
In fact, the popular American Eagle Silver coin contains his "Walking Liberty" design on the obverse. That design was first featured on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar which appeared from 1916-1947, and has long been a public favorite.
For the purposes of the new palladium coin, the legislation requires the obverse use Weinman’s "Winged Liberty" design that appeared on the "Mercury Dime" produced from 1916-1945. Contrary to the nickname it was given, the roman god Mercury is not shown on the design, but instead is actually the mythical figure of Liberty wearing a Phrygian cap to symbolize liberty and freedom.
The reverse of the palladium Eagle would showcase a high relief version of Weinman’s 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.
Also of note, H.R. 6166 states that if proof or uncirculated Palladium Eagles are struck, the Secretary of the Treasury should attempt to insure that the "the surface treatment of each year’s proof or uncirculated version differs in some material way from that of the preceding year."
Rehberg is no stranger to palladium related coinage legislation. As recently as last year, he had introduced a bill calling for Palladium UHR $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle coins. That bill stalled in Congress, but it did not halt Rehberg’s interest in seeing a palladium coin issued.
The state Rehberg represents, Montana, is the only location in the United States where palladium is mined — at a site known as Stillwater Mine. That facility suffered a large setback last year when General Motors cancelled a contract for the precious metal opting instead to purchase it from foreign sources.
The legislation introduced by Rehberg requires the primary source for the material used in the palladium coins to be from domestic supplies:
"The Secretary shall acquire bullion for the palladium coins issued under this subsection by purchase of palladium mined from natural deposits in the United States, or in a territory or possession of the United States, within 1 year after the month in which the ore from which it is derived was mined."
American Eagle Palladium coins have been a topic of interest for many, as of late, especially with the recent proof gold and silver eagle discussions. Recent testimony in Congress inferred that if Palladium Eagles were struck, it would offer precious metal investors another option which might provide some relief in the demand for the gold and silver versions.
Palladium is less expensive than other precious metals like gold and platinum, making palladium coins more affordable to collectors and investors. As an example, as of this writing the spot price of gold is $1292 an ounce while palladium is $552 an ounce.
H.R. 6166 has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services for further action.