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Platinum - Did you know?

  • Besides passing Gold in today's market - here is a little tidbit I found in "Forbes" about Platinum.

    “When first discovered [in the mid-18th century],” says a dusty old book for coin collectors, “platinum was highly prized because it could be produced only in small quantities. [Yet] less than a century later it became so plentiful many mines were abandoned because they produced too much platinum.”

    For the handful of countries which bothered to mint platinum coins – most notably Russia in the mid-19th century – “Counterfeiting became a major problem,” our old tome goes on. But only because, in fact, “platinum pieces were plated with gold and passed off as the then more valuable gold coins of the same size.”

    Fast forward to around 1904 – when Spain finally abandoned its platinum coin production, begun in 1747 – and it was platinum’s industrial uses which took over. And how. You can see what being harder and more difficult to work than gold did for platinum as the 20th century’s early taste for platinum jewelry was followed by wartime lock-downs of supply as a “strategic material”.

    By the 1950s, the new science of catalysis – changing the rate at which chemical reactions occur – saw platinum break away once again from gold as a “useful” rather than merely “pretty” precious metal. Gold still retained its economic use, however. Then as now it is social rather than industrial, and the big swoons in platinum’s premium over the gold price you can see on our chart above coincide with periods when storing wealth became more urgent than developing new engines for fast-growing automobile markets.

    Whether or not platinum now holds or extends its re-found premium to the gold price depends on the underlying outlook for growth vs. depression. So place your bets! Leveraged traders in the futures pits surely will.