Gold has been used as money for more than 5,000 years. The first coins were struck in Asia Minor in the 600’s B.C, and they were called ‘darics’. The concept of coinage spread throughout Europe, but it took a long time for gold to be used for coinage on the continent. Most countries kept their gold reserves and primarily minted silver coins.
History of gold coins
The first roman gold coin was struck in 215 B.C. In the second and first centuries B.C., a Roman general struck a gold ‘aureus’ to commemorate a victory, and it was the first roman coin struck in quantity. Gold coins continued to go through various debasements and reforms over the next 200 to 300 years, but they now enjoyed widespread circulation in the Roman empire and found their way to other lands through trade.
In the 1500’s gold and silver from the New World flowed into Europe, mainly in Spain. In the 1700’s, ducats, issued by various European countries, became the most prominent gold coins. When Napoleon Bonaparte took power he issued large numbers of gold 20-franc and 40-franc coins.
Some have called the approximately 100 years from Napoleon’s downfall to the outbreak of World War I the golden age of gold coins. They circulated widely in many countries as commerce flourished for many of those years and the world was at relative peace.
In the 20th century, circulating gold coinage fell victim to modern economic pressures and was discontinued. Only silver continued to be used for coinage, until 1965, in the United States. Remnants of various nations’ gold coinage heritage, however, can still be found in modern-day bullion coins and commemoratives. Great Britain, for example, still issues gold sovereigns in traditional weights and specifications as bullion coins and commemoratives. Among them was a 2002 issue to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
The best gold Coins
Today, some of the most popular gold coins include the American Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf, the South African Krugerrand, the Austrian Philharmonic, the Australian Kangaroo, the Chinese Panda, and, surprisingly to some people, the Turkish Republic gold coin. These coins are minted by sovereign countries and are recognised all over the world. Buying these coins guarantees you are getting real gold, for one thing, because there are people out there who will try to sell fake gold. Some private mints are quite reputable and have fine products but, at the end, it’s a question of popularity. There are some small premiums associated with these coins but, when comes time to sell, buyers will generally accept paying premiums to own them.
The risk of buying collectible coins
Now, one thing must be stressed : Stay away from « old » or « collectible » coins, or « first strike » ones. More often than not, these will come with very heavy premiums and, when comes time to sell, one may find that their collectible coins cannot be sold for much more than the spot price… One must be aware of the dishonest actors in that sector, and the eventual « reward » of a « rare » coin may not be worth it. So, unless you’re an expert in numismatics, we recommend staying away from this type of gold coins. What is really important in a gold coin is its content in pure gold, its weight and its universal acceptance by eventual buyers.
Why do I have to choose gold coins ?
Investing in gold coins has several advantages, especially for small investors. They are quite liquid and can be easily stored. Also, the above-mentioned gold coins are universally recognised and easy to sell, should one choose to do so. And some gold coins are available in smaller weights, such as half- or quarter- ounce coins, and in some cases, even 1/10oz or 1/20oz coins, which makes for an even more liquid investment. Gold coins should be a part of one’s investment in gold, along with bars or ingots.