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US Mint to Offer 24-Karat Gold Bullion and Proof Coins

Officials see $2.4 billion annually in sales

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Investors and coin collectors alike should take note that the United States Mint has announced it will begin making and selling 24-karat (99.99% pure gold) uncirculated gold bullion investment coins in early 2006. Collector quality proof coins will be made available later in the year.

In a press release, Mint officials projected an annual global market of about $2.4 billion for their first-ever 24-karat gold coins.

“The United States Mint intends to match and exceed world class business practices with this new 24-karat gold bullion coin,” said Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. “There is a demand, both here and abroad, for 24-karat gold coins. We want to meet this demand by providing the highest quality and most beautiful coins in the world, the standard that investors and collectors have come to expect from the United States Mint.”

Design themes, quantities and denominations for the 24-karat gold coins will not be announced until successful test strikes have been completed later this spring.

 It is expected that the program will have two phases, starting with an investor-grade uncirculated 24-karat gold bullion coin, followed by a 24-karat numismatic collector proof coin. The Treasury Secretary will have to approve the designs, denominations and quantities of the coins.

The United States Mint is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of 22-karat (91.67% pure gold) gold bullion investment coins, as well as silver and platinum bullion coins. The United States Mint’s 22-karat American Eagle gold bullion program will continue. The 22-karat American Eagle is the world’s top gold bullion coin with 95% of sales occurring in North America. However, there is an international market for a 24-karat coin, which is becoming the industry standard.

The United States Mint intends to produce the new 24-karat gold bullion coins for both domestic and foreign investors, coin and precious metal dealers, banks, brokerage firms and other companies, who would obtain them through authorized purchasers. The United States Mint approves authorized purchasers after ensuring that they have met rigorous standards.

Purchases of foreign-minted 24-karat gold coins represent almost a third of all gold bullion coins purchased annually in the United States market. Currently, 60% of all global bullion sales are of 24-karat gold products.

The first gold coins produced by the U.S. Mint for general circulation were struck in 1795. In 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it illegal for U.S. citizens to hold gold. He ordered all gold coins removed from circulation and returned to the U.S. Treasury where millions were melted into gold bars. Gold coins that survived the 1933 melt-down are very rare and prized by coin collectors and investors.

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