Real Gold Coins or Bullion Investment Coins?

Author: Lawrence Chard - Chairman and CEO

Published: 19 Nov 2018

Last Updated: 15 Feb 2023


Gold has been used in coinage for thousands of years, originally in the form of currency. In recent centuries, this has changed, and gold coins are now predominantly investment coins unsuitable for day-to-day transactions. Which is a better investment?

1504-1505 Henry VII Gold Angel Coin

Types of Coins

Coins have been used as a currency for several millennia. During Roman times, the metal purity of the coin was often significant. Rulers with strong authority and a thriving economy tended to have coins with higher concentrations of metals such as gold. It was only relatively recently that currency began to use more common metals to increase durability and protect against modern-day wear and tear. Naturally, coins as old as Roman times are now historical artifacts and their value comes far more from their scarcity than their intrinsic value. However, coins from more recent centuries are available on the secondary market and may be an enticing investment.

Why Would I Buy An Old Gold Coin?

We offer four main pieces of advice for anyone considering buying old, real gold coins.

Buying Advice

When purchasing real gold coins, there are a few factors to keep in mind. First, it's advisable to buy in larger quantities as many dealers won't sell small quantities due to additional work and costs, which benefits larger buyers.

Second, you may have to expend slightly more effort. Because these older coins contain irregular 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 straightforward and simple. 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.

Finally, many 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, it is usually only a very small amount. It also means that many of the older coins may be worth more to collectors than an equivalent weight newly minted coin, despite their cosmetic imperfections.

1775 Gold George III Guinea (VF)

Advantages or Disadvantages?

From the above, it can be said that some of the obvious disadvantages of buying original real gold coins can actually be turned around into real positive advantages. If you can buy the same amount of gold as a modern coin for the same price as an antique, you would normally go with the antique to take advantage of its additional collectible and historical value.

Buy the Cheapest

Our biggest piece of advice, and we have been giving this same advice since 1964, is to buy the cheapest. That does not change in this debate. We measure this in terms of percentage premiums over the intrinsic gold value. However, you should not disregard the historical value of the coin, as it is worth paying a small additional 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 here is 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 pure bullion coins.

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

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