- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. Mint is putting special luster into a new gold coin, hoping to win a bigger share of international investment sales. It will be the first 24-karat gold bullion coin in U.S. history.

The Mint announced yesterday that it wants to begin selling the new coin by early next year with the goal of making it the best-selling such coin in the world. It would sell at prices far above face value, keyed to the world price of gold.

The Mint currently produces 22-karat gold bullion coins in its American Eagle series, but it has been finding that international investors, especially in Asia, prefer the purer coins.

The American Eagle coins have face values of $50, $25, $10 and $5, but they sell for much more than that. The $50 American Eagle was selling for around $447 yesterday.

The gold content in the American Eagle coins ranges from an ounce in the $50 American Eagle to one-tenth of an ounce in the $5 coin.

The new coins are expected to sell for essentially the same price as American Eagle coins with similar levels of gold. The only difference will be that the new series will be pure gold without alloys.

Twenty-four-karat coins ? currently produced by Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Singapore and Mexico ? account for 60 percent of global gold coin sales.

Mint officials estimate the potential global market for 24-karat gold coins at $2.4 billion annually.

“We are the number one seller in the world for 22-karat gold, silver and platinum coins and we hope to become the number one seller in the world for 24-karat gold coins,” Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore said in an interview.

This will mark the first time the U.S. Mint has produced a 24-karat gold coin, a designation that means it contains 99.99 percent gold. The current 22-karat gold coin, on the market since 1986, contains 91.67 percent gold with the rest being silver and copper.

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