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Those interested in investing in precious metal coins have another option beyond traditional gold and silver coins: palladium. The rare metal was discovered relatively recently, so while it does not come with the same tradition as gold or silver, it offers significant value.

Various government-issued palladium coins have joined the market since the first palladium coin was produced in the 1960s. As with most bullion products, palladium coin value often goes well beyond its given face value. The content below will explore the history of these precious metal coins as well as some popular options available to investors and collectors today.

History of the Palladium Coin

Palladium is a rare, lustrous metal with a silvery-white appearance. It was first discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803 [1].

This metal is a member of the platinum group of metals, which includes:

  • Iridium
  • Osmium
  • Platinum
  • Rhodium
  • Ruthenium

The most extensive deposits of palladium in the world include [2]:

  • South Africa (the Bushveld Igneous Complex in the Transvaal Basin)
  • United States of America (the Stillwater Complex in Montana)
  • Canada (the Sudbury Basin and Thunder Bay District in Ontario)
  • Russia (the Norilsk Complex)

Palladium is used for [1]:

  • Catalytic converters in cars
  • Jewelry
  • Dental fillings and crowns
  • Electronics (in ceramic capacitors)
  • Hydrogenation and dehydrogenation reactions

Palladium coins, a fairly recent invention, do not have the same history as gold coins or silver coins or even platinum coins. The first palladium coin came from Sierra Leone in 1966 [3].

Other countries have joined in issuing palladium coins since the late 1960s, although most were special commemorative coins and not bullion coins. Countries that have issued palladium coins include:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • France
  • Portugal
  • The Soviet Union
  • Slovakia
  • The United States

What Are the Most Popular Palladium Coins To Buy?

The United States and Canada boast two of the most respected coin programs across the world, so it's no wonder these coin programs issue today's most popular palladium bullion coins. The American Palladium Eagle and Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf come backed by powerful central banks and governments and are issued by respected sovereign mints.

American Palladium Eagle

The American Palladium Eagle is the most recent of the major palladium coins for sale. The American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 first authorized these coins [4]. However, the coins were only first issued in 2017 [5].

Key characteristics of the American Palladium Eagle include:

  • .9995 purity
  • 1-troy-ounce weight
  • $25 face value

The American Palladium Eagle is the country's official palladium bullion coin. It is also the only investment-grade palladium coin available from the United States Government. The U.S. Government guarantees the weight, content and purity of these palladium coins [5].

American Eagles are legal tender coins. The coins have a face value, and though this is mostly symbolic as the true value of the coin comes from its metal content, it proves that the coins are authentic United States coinage. A high-relief image of the 'Winged Liberty' design from the Mercury Dime, created by American coin designer Adolph A. Weinman, features on the obverse. The reverse design is a high-relief version of the same designer's 1907 American Institute of Architects Gold Medal reverse. It includes a branch and an eagle [5].

Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf

First minted in 2005, the Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf joined the larger Canadian Maple Leaf collection as one of the first worldwide major palladium coins. These coins are produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. The Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf coins were first produced from 2005 to 2007 and later for a one-off in 2009. They returned to production in 2015 and have been produced every year since then. The obverse bears an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse features a sugar maple leaf [6].

Key characteristics of the Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf include:

  • .9995 purity
  • 1-troy-ounce weight
  • $50 CAD face value

Other Notable Palladium Coins

The American Palladium Eagle and Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf are not the only options for investors looking to buy palladium coins. Many foreign palladium coins are also popular with collectors, thanks to their relative rarity. Examples of other palladium coins include:

  • Australian Emu Palladium Coins: With .9995 fine palladium purity, Australian Emu Palladium coins offer another interesting example of a palladium bullion product. These coins were struck by the Perth Mint until 1998 and exist in very limited mintages.
  • Chinese Palladium Panda Coins: China struck the first Palladium Panda coin in 1989. The People's Bank of China issued these legal-tender coins, which have a very limited mintage and are significantly more rare than the gold and silver Panda coins. They have a purity of .999.
  • Isle of Man Palladium Angel Coins: These palladium coins are produced by the Pobjoy Mint, the largest private mint in Britain. This mint focuses on uncirculated coins. The coins are minted in very limited quantities and have a purity of .999.
  • Russian Ballerina Palladium Coins: Though coins from the former Soviet Union and the Russian Federation are not common in Western countries, collectors seek these palladium coins due to their historical and cultural significance. The Russian Ballerina Palladium Coins were produced by the Moscow Mint only between 1989 and 1995, making them relatively rare. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, they included Soviet designs on the reverse. You can still find 25 ruble and 10 ruble-denominated versions.

Palladium coins offer some beautiful options for collectors to enjoy, and they provide a way for investors to diversify, as well. Factors that affect palladium coin price include a given coin's rarity, metal content and government backing, so investors and collectors should take all of this into consideration when choosing which coin to buy.

Article Sources:

1. Royal Society of Chemistry. 'Palladium,' Accessed September 25, 2020.

2. Statista. 'Global mine production of palladium 2015 to 2019, by country,' Accessed September 25, 2020.

3. NGC Collectors Society. 'Palladium Coins of Sierra Leone,' Accessed September 25, 2020.

4. Congress. 'H.R.6166 - American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010,' Accessed September 25, 2020.

5. United States Mint. 'American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coins,' Accessed September 25, 2020.

6. Royal Canadian Mint. 'Bullion Products,' Accessed September 25, 2020.