Collecting Gold Coins: What Are The Basics?
Collecting gold coins is a fun, satisfying hobby that can also be a great investment for your portfolio. If you are interested in collecting gold coins but have no idea where to start, we are here to help you. Keep reading to learn more about collecting gold coins, important factors, how they are valued, and how to start collecting today.
Parts of a Gold Coin
One of the first basic things to know about collecting gold coins is understanding the different parts of a gold coin. Every marking, design, stamp, number, and letter on a gold coin matters and can ultimately affect its value.
According to the US Money Reserve, the different parts of a gold coin that are important to know are:
- LEGEND. The legend is the main inscription or lettering on a coin. On the Gold American Eagle Coin, the legend on the front reads, “LIBERTY” and on the back, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Typically, an inscription tells us important information about the coin, like its country of origin, who minted the coin, or who’s featured in the portrait, if applicable.
- FIELD. The field is the flat portion of a coin’s surface. It is unmarked, without design or inscription. The field is essentially the background on to which designs and inscriptions are added. A proof coin has a mirror-like (reflective) field, while a bullion coin exhibits a matte field. To achieve their beautiful “proof” finish, American Eagle Coins must undergo a special minting process.
- RELIEF. The relief is the part of the coin’s design that is raised above the surface/field. On the front of the Gold American Eagle, the relief is Lady Liberty holding a torch and an olive branch, striding toward the viewer with sunbeams and the Capitol building in the background. The reverse relief features a family of eagles clutching olive branches. The raised areas of a proof coin are frosted in appearance, while a bullion coin’s relief has a shiny appearance.
- MINT MARK. A mint mark is a small letter identifying the location of the mint where the coin was produced. Current United States mint marks are P (Philadelphia), D (Denver), S (San Francisco), and W (West Point). Depending on the coin and its year, a mint mark may or may not be present. Proof and Burnished Gold American Eagles include a mint mark, while bullion American Eagles do not include a mint mark.
- DATE. The date is an inscription that indicates the year the coin was minted. Gold American Eagles were first minted in 1986, after the signing of the Gold Bullion Act of 1985. From 1986 to 1992, Gold American Eagles were produced with Roman-numeral dating. Since 1992, the U.S. Mint has produced this series with Arabic (standard) numbers.
- ENGRAVER’S INITIALS. Some coins will also include the engraver’s initials. According to the U.S. Mint, the engraver is the artist who sculpts a clay model of a coin’s design in bas (low) relief. Sheryl (or Sherl) J. Winter engraved the Gold American Eagle.
- DESIGNER’S INITIALS. Some coins will include the initials of its designer. The designer is the artist who creates a coin’s design but doesn’t necessarily engrave the design into a coinage die. Their initials are usually small and require a magnifying glass to locate. On the obverse of the Gold American Eagle, you can see AG for Augustus Saint-Gaudens. On the reverse, MB stands for Miley Busiek (now known as Miley Tucker-Frost). Learn more about the men and women who designed the Gold American Eagle!
- RIM. The rim is the raised part along the edge of both sides of the coin. A coin’s rim makes it easier to stack and reduces wear when handling. A Gold American Eagle has a raised or “upset” rim.
- EDGE. The edge is the outer border of a coin and is also called the “third side.” There are four types of edges: plain, reeded, lettered, or decorated. The Gold American Eagle has a reeded edge.
- MOTTO. The motto is an inspirational or historic saying on either the obverse or reverse side of the coin. A motto is different than an inscription, as it’s typically made up of words that are inspirational or emotionally stirring. On the Gold American Eagle, the motto includes “E Pluribus Unum” and “In God We Trust” on the reverse side.
- WEIGHT. The stated amount of gold (or other precious metal) content is guaranteed by the issuing government in each coin. The 1-oz. Gold American Eagle shown here is produced with exactly one ounce of gold and guaranteed by the U.S. government. Fractional coins in the series contain 1/2, 1/4, or 1/10 of an ounce of gold.
Types of Gold Coins
There are endless types of gold coins you can collect depending on your interests, what you find to be beautiful and desirable, your investment goals, and much more. Gold coins are constantly being minted for commemorative purposes and much more. However, some of the top coins for investing in gold include:
- American Eagle 1-Ounce Gold Coin
- American Buffalo 1-Ounce Gold Coin
- Canadian Maple Leaf 1-Ounce Gold Coin
- British Britannia 1-Ounce Gold Coin
- South African Krugerrand 1-Ounce Gold Coin
How Gold Coins Are Valued
The value of a gold coin is determined by several factors. Also according to the US Money Reserve, these factors include:
- Coin type
- Coin size
- Coin grade
- Coin company
If the coin is able to reach the highest grade on each of these factors, has a rare date, and is in high demand, the value will skyrocket.
Collecting Gold Coins With Priority Gold
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