Real Gold Coins or Bullion Investment Coins?

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 19 Nov 2018

Last Updated: 10 Nov 2020


About 2,500 years before Krugerrands and other one ounce gold bullion coins were invented, there were real gold coins, issued to circulate as money.

1504-1505 Henry VII Gold Angel Coin

What's the Catch?

There are four slight catches, but only very slight ones.

Buying Advice

First, you need to buy them in reasonable quantity to get the best deals. Most dealers will not sell small quantities because of the extra work and cost involved, this can work to the advantage of larger buyers.

Second, you may have to expend slightly more effort. Because these older coins contain strange fractions of an ounce of gold, you will need a calculator to work out the exact value. One of the reasons for the success of the Krugerrand and all the copycat gold bullion coins it spawned was the fact that it, at least in its original version, contained one ounce of gold. This made calculation and comparison idiot-proof. With older real coins, it's not quite as simple to compare, but the hidden advantage is that the investor who is prepared to put in just a tiny amount of extra effort can get something extra for nothing.

Third, because there are different types of many of these coins, it is easy to allow oneself to be confused by which type to buy. This very variety in itself is another of the reasons why collectors will pay extra for them. Especially, when demanding their own choice. The smart investor can get this selection thrown in for free.

Some of the older coins will be more worn than newer, mint condition, coins. While it is true that this means there may be a tiny fraction less gold, and it is usually only a tiny amount, it also means that many of the older coins may be worth more to collectors.

1775 Gold George III Guinea (VF)

Advantages or Disadvantages?

From the above, it will be seen that some of the obvious disadvantages of buying original real gold coins actually turn out to have strong counterpoints turning them into real positive advantages. Why not get an antique for the same money as the modern equivalent.

Buy the Cheapest

Our usual advice, and we have been giving this same advice since 1964, is to buy the cheapest. We measure this in terms of percentage premiums over the intrinsic gold value. However, this should be modified slightly because it is worth paying a small premium for smaller sized coins, and also for more historic and attractive coins.

So, What's Available?

Over the centuries many countries have issued gold coins. Some types are now rare, but we give here a list of the most commonly available gold coins, which can be classified as gold bullion coins because they can at times be acquired for small premiums, comparable with modern purely bullion coins.

We will offer these coins as and when they are available, both singly and in bulk.

Further Reading

You may wish to view all of our articles on our gold guide.

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