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Gold Coins and Art Rounds

Updated on June 26, 2015

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Gold Coins and Gold Art Rounds

With the price of gold so high people are taking notice of coins and art rounds. In the case of these collectible items there are several things to consider. Precious metals come with different purities, different sizes, and different numismatic values. So, consider these when making a purchase.

Photo Credit Perth Mint

Old United States Gold Coins

Perhaps the most desirable gold coins are the coins that predate 1933. These include various liberty head styles and the Indian head type. Old United States have a special appeal to numismatists within the United States. Indeed, these coins were once ordered melted down, making those that survived a part of history.

United States old gold coins suffer internationally from two problems, the purity is only 0.900, not the 0.999 of current foreign coins, and the weights are slightly off. A twenty dollar gold piece is usually thought to contain an ounce of gold, but it is slightly less. The smaller denominations should contain the fraction of an ounce of indicated by the denomination of the coin divided by 20, but are all slightly less than expected.

Generally, unless the condition is absolutely horrible, the numismatic value should offset any slight weight problems.

Older coins are referred to as double eagles for $20 denomination coins, eagles for $10 denomination coins, half eagles for $5 coins and quarter eagles for coins of the $2.50 denomination. Other denominations used were $1, $3, and $4.

Current United States Gold Coins

The current American Eagle gold coins include the one Troy ounce $50 denomination coin, the half ounce $25 denomination coin, the $10 one-fourth ounce coin, and the $5 one-tenth ounce coin. Notice the denomination does not indicate a percent of the Eagle, and also that eagle refers to a different weight and denomination coin in the new issues than it once did.

The purity problem remains. Current United States gold coins are 0.900 pure gold. Since these are considered bullion, there is a problem when competing with foreign issues.

Foreign Gold Coins

Foreign mints produce 0.999, and even 0.9999, pure gold coins. Many are produced in smaller sizes, with the half-gram coins from the Perth Mint being the smallest I am aware of. There are just over 30 grams in a Troy ounce, so these half-gram coins are slightly smaller than one sixtieth of a Troy ounce.

Popular sizes are one twentieth of an ounce and one twenty-fifth of an ounce. Gibraltar and the Isle of Man issue such small size coins.

For commemorative coins the numismatic value often greatly adds to the bullion value. The Perth Mint issues numerous commemorative coins in gold. These might be worth considering if there is need to support some of the value of the coin other than with the bullion value.

Most foreign mints have bullion gold coins available for sale. Many of them will not sell bullion directly to the public, but buying these coins at a small markup over the bullion price is not difficult. Consider that slight premium the cost of having gold that will not need to be assayed when sold.

Perth Mint Gold

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Photo Gallery Perth Mint Gold

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Perth Mint Gilded Coins

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Alaska State Medallions

Alaska issues state medallions with the image of the winning entry of an art contest. The image is to be used only for one year in minting coins. These are minted in both gold and silver. Some issues are very rare, since only the annual demand can be minted by law. The gold issues are more expensive and likely to be sold in lower quantities than the silver issues. Unfortunately, finding gold Alaska Medallions being offered for sale is rare.

If it is the beauty of the gold, Alaska Medallions are minted in fine silver selectively gilded in gold.

Gilded Or Plated Coins

Selectively plating a coin or medallion with gold, sometimes referred to as gilding the coin or medallion, added aesthetic appeal. This can enhance the value of the coin. However, the thin layer of gold selectively applied to the coin adds very little in bullion value.

The historic New Orleans Mint, now a museum, once had an exhibit of a ten foot cubic room. The room had all walls and the ceiling gilded in gold. To achieve this only three Troy ounces of gold were used. So, a thin layer of gold over a small part of a coin does not add significantly to its metal value.

Foreign mints, especially the Perth Mint and New Zealand Mint, issue gilded fine silver coins. Gilded Official Alaska Medallions are easily found in gilded form, as well as many other gilded fine silver medallions from Alaska.

Disney Rounds

Disney makes quite a few “coins” at irregular intervals. While many Disney “coins” are fine silver, only a few are also issued in gold. A few others are issued in gilded form. Be careful, some, not many, are base metals plated with silver and gold. Look for the metal content and purity stamped on the “coin” or mentioned in the Certificate of Authenticity.

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

When buying, look for the words mini, copy, and replica. Also, look for the word plated. Some rounds are covered with gold in a thin layer, which adds little to the value, then sold. Unfortunately, these may well show 1 ounce 24-kt gold, or something similar on them. How do they get away with this? They claim they are making a “tribute” coin, and the stamping that may be misleading is part of the original coin to which tribute is being paid.

Fractional Gold Coins

Fractional gold coins are coins that are less than one Troy ounce. Because of the cost of one ounce of gold, many mints started producing fractional gold bullion and gold collectible coins. Coins as small as one twenty-fifth of an ounce were, for years the smallest coins one could readily find. Now, mints are producing coins of one-half gram, which are a little less than one-sixtieth of an ounce. There seems to be a closer to the spot price of gold with one-tenth ounce coins than with smaller ones, and those one-half gram coins are rather pricey for the gold they contain. So, why are the smaller coins being made? Some people want to own gold, and cannot afford larger coins. As long as others are doing the same, there will be a market, but if the buyers stop buying the smaller gold coins may be worth less than the larger pieces.

Do you have a comment? We appreciate comments.

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    • sepiapulpo profile image


      6 years ago

      I think the gold bubble will burst soon. Silver is the way to go, its very underrated. But nice lens. I recently made one on how to make lot's of Gold, but I'm talking about the ingame currency of Diablo 3. ;)

    • Squidpress profile image


      6 years ago

      I should really diversify a bit and get some gold coins.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image


      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      I never realized that some rounds could be gold plated. Thanks for that valuable tip!

    • CruiseReady profile image


      6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Nice information. I only own one gold coin and it's quite special to me, as it was a gift.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A lot of good information in this lens. I've noticed with gold prices rishing lately, the premiums on older American gold coins aren't that much higher than bullion in some cases.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I enjoyed reading and learning more about gold coins. In fact, I had to go take a better look at my 20 pesos gold coin from 1959 and look up it's value. Thank you for this information.

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens! Years ago I collected coins, gold and silver...including other countries old coins.


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