Palladium is a precious metal which features excellent characteristics for coinage. Despite this, its use in coins which make it into general circulation has been perhaps surprisingly limited. Oddly, one of the earliest recorded use of native platinum in coinage, in the days before palladium was identified and recorded separately from that naturally occurring metal) was in South America’s Spanish colonies, where it was used as a method of manufacturing counterfeit gold coins. The fake coins were struck in native platinum, often within the same mint that was the source of legitimate gold coins. They were then gilded with gold and falsely marketed as being pure gold.
One form of palladium coin which did make it into general circulation was one which commemorated the coronation of the new King, Taufa Ahau Tupou IV in the South Pacific island nation known as Tonga over forty years ago back in 1967. This was possibly the first issue of a palladium coin. Then, from the years 1987 to 1990, Portugal started to issue palladium proof coins with a series of other metals.
Another palladium coin also emerged in 1987 in France, where a 100 Franc bullion proof palladium coin was issued featuring the bust of Lafayette. 1987 proved to be a very popular year for palladium coins, with the island kingdom in the Irish Sea known as the Isle of Man also issuing such a coin to commemorate the bicentennial of the constitution of the United States of America, with featured an image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse of the coin, with an image of no less than eleven Presidents of the United States encircling the Statue of Liberty on the reverse side of the coin.
Some limited edition Palladium coin issues were made by Russia between the years of 1989 and 1995. These were referred to as the ballerina series due to the image of a ballerina posing which typically featured on the obverse side of the coin. The first palladium coin to ever be struck by China was manufactured in 1989, although no more were produced for another twenty odd years, when 8000 100 Yuan palladium coins were minted, all of them featuring the image of kissing pandas.
Palladium bullion coins in the “Emu” series were produced by Australia from 1995 to 1997, with four different variations all featuring a different image of the flightless bird. All of these coins were one troy ounce of 99.95 percent pure palladium.