Ultra-High Relief (UHR) Palladium Coin from US Mint?

This is actually old news, but I picked it up in a few searches I was doing on Palladium.

It seems that in early April, Max Baucus (Sentator from Montana) put forward a bill (S. 758) to authorize the US Mint to produce a 1 ounce Palladium coin, similar to the very successful 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin.

CoinNews.net: Palladium Ultra High Relief Coins Come Back, S. 758

History, however, provides insights. Senators Max Baucus [D-MT] and Jon Tester [D-MT] sponsored S. 758 and they also introduced S. 2924 for the same purpose last year. That bill was similar to an earlier and unanimously passed House version, H.R. 5614. The Senate failed to take action on either before the new year, and both died with the end of the 110th congress.

The previous bills would have authorized one-ounce proof and uncirculated palladium coins that were digital reproductions of the famed Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ designed 1907 $20 Double Eagle — often described as the most beautiful coin ever minted in the U.S.

Buyers of the gold 2009 Ultra High Relief $20 Double Eagles can attest to the beauty and detail of that 1907 design. During the first day of Ultra High Relief sales alone, the US Mint sold 28,173. Despite the over $1200 price tag for one, the latest Mint sales figures show 56,527 have been purchased.

You might be wondering why Max Baucus, who is point on driving health care reform in the Senate, would concern himself with coinage.

It turns out that the only mine in the United States that produces Palladium is in Montana, and with the auto industry hurting, it’s a serious jobs issue for the State.

Commodity speculators may be on the outs with regulators in Washington right now, but it seems if you take a commodity and turn it into a coin to spark collector/speculator interest, well, that’s just OK.

In any case, I would love to see this happen.  Buying Palladium right now is incredibly difficult.  2005 & 2006 Canadian Maple Leafs are hard to find without a huge (30%+) markup over the metal.  Ironically, this crash of the auto marketplace is a perfect opportunity to invest in Palladium.  Not surprisingly, however, the lack of demand for the metal also seems to translate into a lack of vehicles to invest in it.

Such is the life of a contrarian coin investor.

Let’s hope Max can take a day off from the health care push and get this one passed.  Given it’s bi-partisan support, maybe it can help revive some form of bi-partisan cooperation in Washington… 🙂

Tomatoes 2009: The Year of the Green Zebra

Thought I’d take a break from posting about pretend farming, and add my annual post on my real life farming efforts.

Those of you who know me, or who have been reading this blog for a while, know that I love to garden.  Despite having a tiny amount of plantable land (I have two 3×3 foot garden boxes, and one 3×6 that I use for tomatoes), I do my best.

I try to balance color and variety each year with my tomato picks.  I only have room for four plants (technically, if I gave them proper space, two plants), so I try to mix demonstrated produces with at least one tomato that I’ve never grown before.

For 2009, I planted:

  • Sweet 100 (Red Cherry)
  • Sungold (Small orange)
  • Lemon Boy (Medium yellow)
  • Green Zebra (Medium Green/Yellow striped)

As usual, I do nothing fancy for my garden boxes.  They have reliable watering through soaker hose on a timer, and I fill each box with new compost every spring.

For volume, Sungold really stole the show this year.  Normally, the Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes are the big producer, but not this year.  The Sungold plant went nuts.  The bush overgrew my 4-foot cage and spilled over the entire box:


Gorgeous fruit, with bountiful bunches of bright orange tomatoes.  Very sweet.  I’m being conservative by saying that we’ve harvested over 200 tomatoes off this one plant already this season, and we’re harvesting another 50+ daily right now.


The clear champion of this summer, however, was the experimental variety, the Green Zebra. The Green Zebra, it turns out, is not an heirloom tomato (although I thought it was when I bought it.)

The plant has been an incredible grower, and has produced several dozen fruits already.  They are a beautiful green striped, medium-sized tomato that turn yellow at the top when they are ripe.


They grow in beautiful clusters, and the vine has been producing several ripe tomatoes every day through August.


They taste delicious, like a slightly acidic version of a typical salad tomato, but with beautiful color.  Fantastic addition to any garden.

So, the 2009 award for best tomato (in my garden) goes to: Green Zebra.

Maybe I can get Zynga to add it to Farmville as a “Super” crop?  🙂