Platinum is a silvery gray metal considered to be extremely rare, usually part of other precious metals, a byproduct when mined. Known since pre-Columbian times in South-America, where it was used for certain artifacts (usually alloyed with gold), although knowledge of the metal was not widespread in Europe until the middle of the 18th century. At first the metal was valued less than gold or silver, for the simple reason that its hardness prevented it to have many uses at the time. With modern applications often containing platinum, demand as well as the price has gone up worldwide, with the current price in the same neighborhood as gold. In past decades platinum was generally valued higher than gold.
Platinum has never been widely used in coins. In the 18th century in Spanish Colonial America, in fact, platinum was added to gold to make counterfeit gold coins. The only substantial minting of platinum coins occurred in Russia, where for awhile they were preferred by merchants because they did not melt in fires. The platinum, however, gave the coins the impression of being struck in lesser value, and after a few decades minting was ceased. Both the United States and Britain struck a very limited number of pattern coins in platinum, for unknown reasons, although the metal was never adopted in either of the two countries. In the late 1970s the metal saw a revival in the USSR, where a special series of commemorative platinum coins were struck for the 1980 Olympics. Since 1988 Russia has struck more commemorative platinum coins, and other countries have slowly followed their example.
The first platinum bullion coin struck for investment purposes was released by the Isle of Man in 1983 (Platinum Nobles), and continued to be struck throughout the rest of the decade. Canada followed with the Platinum Maple Leaf in 1988, the same year Australia released the Platinum Koala and China the Platinum Panda. The United States would not follow until 1997, when the first American Platinum Eagle was released.
This website will provide further information, images, and mintage details of platinum coins from around the world. Whether you are pursuing these coins for precious metals investment or collecting purposes, or a combination, we hope that you will find this information helpful and informative.