Buying Gold Coins and Bars
Gold bullion is generally purchased in the form of coins or bars. Coins are minted in one ounce or smaller denominations, while gold bars can range from 1 gram to 100 ounce sizes. The decision to purchase gold coins or gold bars is largely one of personal preference.
Government issued bullion coins and older government general circulation coins, often have dazzling and beautiful designs that may sway some investors and collectors to opt for gold coins over bars. These designs, as well as limited annual mintages might also add a greater premium to gold coins over gold bars. Here are some of the options for buying gold coins and bars.
Gold Bullion Sovereign Coins
Gold bullion coins are minted by governments to meet the demand of collectors and investors. They are sold on the basis of their weight and finesse of gold, although most governments also stamp a nominal value on their gold bullion coins in order to give them legal tender status.
The three most widely sold gold bullion sovereign coins are the American Gold Eagle, Canadian Gold Maple Leaf and the South African Krugerrand coins. These three coins and other government issued bullion coins are widely recognized and command slightly higher premiums than one ounce gold bars.
American Gold Eagle Coins
First introduced in 1986, the American Gold Eagle is a 22K gold coin and the world’s best-selling gold bullion coin. The obverse of an American Gold Eagle coin boasts the same design as the obverse of the “Saint Gaudens” U.S. $20 gold piece, or “double eagle” that was minted from 1907 – 1933. The front of a Saint Gaudens and American Gold Eagle coin features a walking lady liberty depiction designed by famed sculptor Augustus Saint- Gaudens. The American Gold Eagle coin is available in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and one ounce denominations.
Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins
The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin has been minted annually since 1979. Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins are minted of 99.99% pure gold (.9999, 24kt) and the weight and purity of each coin is guaranteed by the Royal Canadian Mint. The front of the coin features Queen Elizabeth II of England and the back the iconic Canadian Maple Leaf. The Gold Canadian Maple Coin is available in 1/10 ounce ($5 face value), 1/4 ounce ($10),1/2 ounce ($20) and one ounce ($50) sizes.
The South African Gold Krugerrand was first minted in 1967 by the South African Mint at a time when South Africa was the world’s largest producer of gold. The Krugerrand is a 22K gold coin. The term ‘Krugerrand” has become synonymous with the term gold bullion over the past fifty years.
Pre-1933 U.S./Other Sovereign Issued Bullion Coins
Up until the early and mid- 20th century, gold coins circulated as every day currency. Many of the common dated gold coins of that era are available for sale a relatively low premiums over the spot price of gold.
Pre- 1933 U.S. Gold Coins
Until 1933, the U.S. Mint produced gold coins for use in general circulation. Starting in 1837 American gold coins were minted in 90% gold and 10% copper. The most commonly available pre-1933 U.S. gold coins for purchase near the price of simple bullion coins are the Quarter Eagles ($2.50 face value), Half Eagles ($5.00), Eagles ($10.00) and Double Eagles ($20) coins.
French and Swiss 20 Franc gold coins of the late nineteenth century and early 20th century are also popular gold coins that can be purchased without a significant numismatic premium.
French Gold Rooster 20 Franc Coins
Swiss Gold 20 Franc Helvetia Coins
Gold Bullion Bars
Except for the extremely wealthy, collecting various designs of gold coins and bars is not an option. Therefore, for many investors, buying gold comes down to form rather than design. Gold bars are often the most cost effective option for buying gold bullion as premiums on gold bars tend to be lower than on bullion gold coins.
Gold bars are produced by sovereign mints and private mints.
1 oz. Gold Britannia Bars
1 oz. Royal Canadian Mint Gold Bars
1 oz Credit Suisse Gold Bar
This article by BGASC is not, and should not be regarded as, investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular course of action.