Palladium is a precious metal that has good characteristics for coinage, but its use in general circulation coins has been very limited. Curiously, one of the earliest coin uses of native platinum (before palladium was identified and separated from the naturally-occurring metal) was in the Spanish colonies of South America, where it was used to make counterfeit gold coins. The bogus coins were struck in native platinum, sometimes within the same mint where the legitimate gold coins were pressed, then they were gilded with gold, and passed off as pure gold.
In 1967, the South Pacific island nation of Tonga issued some
palladium general circulation coins commemorating the coronation
of King Taufa Ahau Tupou IV, perhaps the first issue using
to 1990, Portugal
issuing palladium proof coins as part of a series with other
Also in 1987, France issued a 100 Franc palladium bullion proof coin featuring the bust of Lafayette. 1987 was a popular year for palladium bullion; the Isle of Man, an island kingdom in
the Irish Sea, issued a palladium coin in commeroration of
the bicentennial of the United States Constitution and featuring Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and and on the reverse are 11 U.S. presidents encircling the Statue of Liberty. Please see the picture in the sidebar.
From 1989 to 1995, Russia made some limited palladium bullion
issues, known as the ballerina series because the obverse would
typically feature a ballerina striking a pose.
Australia produced some palladium bullion coins in an “Emu” series from 1995 to 1997. Four different mintings were done with variations on the Emu, a flightless bird, for each. The coins, both proof and bullion, are one troy ounce of 99.95% pure palladium
with a face value $A40. The first limited bullion version sold 10 percent over
the prevailing palladium price. Australia marketed the first proof or collector
version at $A350 - the number of proofs minted 2,500. The Perth Mint suspended the Emu series when the price of palladium doubled in 1998.
New Slovakian Issue
On May 1st 2004, the largest expansion of the European Union in its history took place and the 15 member countries were joined by 10 new ones – Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. On May 3, 2004, the Republic of Slovak issued a pentagon shaped coin commemorating the occasion. Minted in palladium with selective plating of gold, 7,200 proof coins were struck, 40mm in size and weighing 24.8828 g, with a face value of 10,000Sk.
New Lewis & Clark Bullion Issue
Today, Northwest Territorial Mint is producing .9995 palladium bullion in rounds and bars commemorating the 1804 start of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The reverse features a Montana buffalo, and an annual change to another Montana state animal is planned. These coins are minted out of palladium from Stillwater Mining and refined by Johnson Matthey.
Palladium is also available for minting of custom coins from the same .9995 palladium as the Lewis & Clark bullion, resulting in a coin that is whiter than platinum, more precious than silver and unlike silver, free of tarnishing in air. As an active minter of palladium proof coins for bullion trading, Northwest Territorial Mint has developed techniques to handle this beautiful metal well. Custom palladium coins and medallions can now be minted, producing a coin of high value, beauty and luster.
China struck its first palladium Pandas in 1989 and minted 8,000 100 Yuan palladium coins featuring the lovely kissing pandas in 2004.
Growing demand for palladium as an investment vehicle in China will be met in part by a new medallion offered for sale by ICBC in 2012, the nation’s third largest bank with some 5,000 branches in China.
The America Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 was signed into law on December 14, 2010. If a marketing study underway determines that there is adequate demand, the United States Mint will be required to mint and issue palladium bullion coins. The American Palladium Eagles would contain one ounce of .9995 palladium with a nominal face value of $25.
The coin will feature designs by Adolph A. Weinman. The obverse will bear a high relief likeness of the obverse of the Mercury Dime as shown below. The first Palladium Eagles are required to be minted and issued not more than one year after the submission of the required marketing study. Results from the marketing study are due shortly.