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Gold Coins of the World

Updated on February 16, 2010

Gold has been used over the years in many ways including currency, decoration, and jewelry. It is now one of today's most popular forms of investment because gold is safe. No matter what happens to the stock market or the value of your home, gold will still be gold. And as long as there is gold, there will be people that want it. Gold coins are unique in that they appeal to both the investor and the collector. The investor is satisfied because the coin is minted from a precious metal, and the collector is satisfied because it is more pleasing to the eye than a gold bar (although gold bars are cool too!).  The ever increasing popularity of gold coin collecting has created a very competitive global market with products from the U.S., Canada, China, Australia, Great Britain, and South Africa all competing for your business.  The coins minted in all of these different countries are unique in their own way and each would make a great addition to any collector or investors portfolio.

American Gold Eagle Proof Coin Obverse
American Gold Eagle Proof Coin Obverse
American Gold Eagle Proof Coin Obverse
American Gold Eagle Proof Coin Obverse

American Eagle Gold Coins

The American Eagle Gold Coin first appeared in 1986 as part of the United States Mint bullion coin program (silver and platinum Eagles are also available). The obverse depicts the same image of Liberty that was used on the original $20 Double Eagles made back in 1907. You will also find the mint date and the word "Liberty" on the obverse of the coin. The reverse depicts a nest of Eagles. According to the United States Mint, the nest of eagles is to "symbolize family tradition and unity." On the reverse you will also find "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum", and "In God We Trust". You will also see "1 Oz Fine Gold ~ 50 Dollars" on the proof coin, this will vary on the bullion coins based on the denomination and metal content.

The American Eagle Gold Coin is available in both a proof and uncirculated version, both are made with 22k gold. The proof coin is made to cater to the numismatist while the uncirculated version is more for bullion investors. A proof coin undergoes a special minting process where the relief appears to float above the mirror like background. It is really quite striking to see one up close. The bullion investors however care more about the precious metal content than the appearance of the coin itself, as the price for gold rises on the open market, the value of their bullion coins also goes up.

American Gold Buffalo Coin Obverse
American Gold Buffalo Coin Obverse
American Gold Buffalo Coin Reverse
American Gold Buffalo Coin Reverse

American Buffalo Gold Coins

The American Buffalo Gold Coin is another bullion coin produced by the United States Mint.  The main difference is the Gold Eagles are produced with 22 karat gold while the American Buffaloes use 24 karat gold.  This was probably done to compete with the other 24k gold coins available from other countries such as the Canadian Maple Leaf.

Front and back, the gold buffalo is an exact replica of the 1913 Type I Buffalo Nickel designed by James Earle Fraser.  The obverse depicts an image of an American Indian with the word "Liberty" and the mint date.  The reverse shows the well known image of an American Bison, with the coins tender, weight, and purity on the bottom.  Also on the reverse are the three phrases found on U.S. legal tender, "E Pluribus Unum", "In God We Trust", and "United States of America". 

South African Gold Krugerrands - various denominations
South African Gold Krugerrands - various denominations

South African Krugerrands

One could argue that the popularity of gold coins today can trace it's roots back to the South African Gold Krugerrand.  The Krugerrand was the first gold bullion coin to hit the market back in 1967.  It is minted from one troy ounce of fine gold is considered legal tender in South Africa.  The Krugerrand is unique though in that it does not have a denomination engraved on the coin.  It's face value is reliant upon the current market price of gold.  It was the popularity of the Krugerrand that led other countries to start producing their own bullion coins. 

Another interesting fact about the Krugerrand is that despite it's popularity, it was illegal to import them in a lot of countries due to South Africa's policy on apartheid (legal segregation).  When apartheid ended in 1994, so did the ban on Krugerrands.

Canadian Maple Leaf

The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf began production in 1979 and is minted at The Royal Canadian Mint. It is a rather simple, yet stunning design. The obverse depicts a bust of Queen Elizabeth II(dependent upon mint year) and the reverse has an intricate maple leaf. The major selling point of the Canadian gold Maple Leaf is the quality of the gold content. The Royal Canadian Mint uses the highest quality gold in their coins and even have some special issue coins that contain .99999 percent pure 24 carat gold. Also, all of the gold used to mint these coins is mined locally in Canada.

Chinese Panda Gold Coins

The Chinese Gold Panda Coin is minted at the Shenzhen Guobao Mint and is available in 1oz, 1/2oz, 1/4oz,1/10oz, and even a 1/20oz. The gold panda is a very popular coin because they change the design every year. This is unusual for a bullion coin but it is a great marketing strategy as it makes the coin more appealing to collectors as well as investors. The stunning designs also made the coin ideal to use as a piece of jewelry. Who wouldn't want to wear one of these cute pandas around their neck?

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