The 2008 Platinum Eagle was released during a turbulent year for platinum market prices. This had a significant impact on both the numismatic and bullion offerings.
After starting the year at $1,541 per ounce, platinum experienced a quick surge which brought the price to more than $2,200 per ounce by early March. After a sharp pull back, prices stabilized around the $2,000 level, but then experienced an extended decline through the summer months, eventually falling below $800 per ounce. For the final two months of the year, prices stabilized around this level and finished the year at $900 per ounce.
As typical, the US Mint offered the Platinum Eagle bullion coins through a network of authorized purchasers. The coins carried the standard obverse design featuring John Mercanti’s portrait of the Statue of Liberty and a reverse design featuring a soaring eagle designed by Thomas D. Rogers. Amidst the roller coaster year for market prices, platinum bullion sales rose by more than 200% compared to the previous year. The US Mint suspended sales in October and offered a limited final amount of coins in November. Although it was unknown at the time, this would represent the final availability of Platinum Eagle bullion coins for more than five years.
On May 5, 2008, the US Mint began sales of the 2008 Proof Platinum Eagle in four individual sizes or as a four coin set. These collector coins featured the Statue of Liberty obverse design paired with a reverse design celebrating the Judicial branch of government. This was the final design in a three year series entitled “The Foundations of American Democracy”. The design by Joel Iskowitz depicted the figure of Lady Justice with scales suspended from a finger of her right hand, representing the delicate balance of justice, and a sword in her left hand, symbolizing the power of reason, which can be wielded in either direction.
The initial pricing was increased from the levels of the prior year and the product limits remained unchanged. Sales progressed slowly for several months, before volatility in the market price of platinum prompted a prolonged sales suspension. For several months the coins remained unavailable for purchase as platinum prices fell. Finally towards the end of the year, sales were resumed at lower prices and quick sell outs were achieved for the remaining inventory. The final mintages set new lows across all four denominations.
On July 17, 2008, sales of the 2008-W Uncirculated Platinum Eagle began at the US Mint. These coins were a second numismatic version of the coin struck on burnished blanks and carrying the “W” mint mark. The same reverse design celebrating the Judicial branch was featured. Very shortly after the start of sales, the market price of platinum began its extended decline. In response, the US Mint suspended sales and did not resume until late in the year. At the newly effective lower prices, prompt sell outs were realized for the remaining available coins.
Mintages for the collectible uncirculated coins were even lower than the proof coins. In fact, these were the lowest mintages for any coins issued by the United States Mint in decades. The final audited mintage levels for the coins were 2,876 one ounce coins, 2,253 half ounce coins, 2,481 quarter ounce coins, and 3,706 tenth ounce coins.
Although it was unknown at the time, this would be the final year of issue for the collectible uncirculated versions of the Platinum Eagle. It would also be the final year that fractional proof versions would be issued.
2008 Platinum Eagle Specifications
Designers: John Mercanti (obverse), Thomas D. Rogers (bullion reverse), Joel Iskowitz (proof reverse)
Composition: 99.95% platinum
Weight ($100 Denom): 31.120 grams (1.0005 oz )
Diameter ($100 Denom): 32.7 mm (1.287 inches)
Thickness ($100 Denom): 2.39 mm (0.094 inches)
Mint Mark: none (bullion), W (proof), W (uncirculated)
2008 Platinum Eagle Mintage
Bullion Mintage: 20,800 (1 oz), 12,800 (1/2 oz), 20,800 (1/4 oz), 13,000 (1/10 oz)
Proof Mintage: 4,769 (1 oz), 4,020 (1/2 oz), 4,153 (1/4 oz), 5,138 (1/10 oz)
Uncirculated (W) Mintage: 2,876 (1 oz), 2,253 (1/2 oz), 2,481 (1/4 oz), 3,706 (1/10 oz)