Palladium is a precious metal that has only recently been used for the manufacture of jewellery, some types of catalytic converter, multi-layer ceramic capacitors, hydrogen production and storage systems, photographic printing and artworks. In the early 21st century, precious metal investing with palladium coins has gained far more mainstream appeal.
It’s first use as a coin dates back to 1966 when Tonga minted a palladium coin. Since that time, 92 different palladium coins have been issued, many of them in Australia, Russia, Canada and Portugal. Most are single metal strikes of high purity in 1-ounce, 1/2-ounce and 1/4-ounce sizes. Most are given a currency denomination, differentiating them from simple bullion. However, the most popular palladium coins are of bullion standards.
Among the most prominent recently minted palladium coins include a three year run of palladium Canadian Maple Leafs, ending in 2007. In 2006 they also made a very small minting of Constellation series coins, featuring a Canadian landscape and the pattern of constellations during each of the four seasons.
Some seemingly unlikely countries are producing palladium coins in the ’aughts. For example, the impoverished African nation of Malawi recently produced a run of several thousand 1g coins. The Isle of Man released its own commemorative palladium coins in 2004. The Cook Islands is releasing a 1-ounce HMS Bounty coin for 2009.
Many of these small nations rely upon the Perth Mint in Western Australia to mint palladium coins for them. Australia itself hasn’t issued a palladium coin since 1998 when several thousand Double-Emus were minted. Between 2003 and 2004, Slovakia produced a gold and palladium coin with a unique shape. And, in 2007, the British Virgin Islands minted a series of 999 small, quad-metal coins. These were manufactured at the Pobjoy Mint and were sold as collectors items rather than for precious metal investing purposes, and were a fine example of high-quality, modern minting technology.
And the United States, which is a major supplier of both coins and bullion products made from gold, silver and platinum, has only made one run of palladium coins – just 250 commemorative 1/2-ounce coins for the Poarch Creek Reservation in 2004.
Between 1988 and 1995, the Soviet Union (then continuing as Russia) produced a copious number of palladium coins for investment – tens of thousands per year during those tumultuous times while trying to raise western capital. Indeed, a destabilized national currency is a good reason for nations to sell of stockpiles of metals and other non-perishable commodities.
Those looking to palladium coins to fill their precious metal investing needs will want to consider how widely the market price of palladium has wildly swung from $145 to over $1,000 during the ’aughts. It is considered a long-term investment, as it is not quite as liquid as any of the other precious metals.
Palladium for the purpose of precious metal investing may also purchased as bars, ingot or bullion rounds. Bars are available in sizes ranging from 1-ounce up to 100-ounces and are especially prized by small investors because they stack easily in a home safe. Ingot is typically less pure and, as such, even less liquid of an investment than palladium bullion.
February 9, 2009