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Gold Coin Price Guide - Buy, Value or Sell Gold Coins

Why Own Gold Coins? Buying and Selling Gold Coins Gold Coin Terminology Grading Coins Caring for & Cleaning Coins Coins versus Bars or Rounds History of Gold Coins

1907 $20 High Relief Gold Coin 1907 $20 High Relief Gold Coin
1907 $20 High Relief Gold Coin


The intrinsic value and historical appeal of gold coins make them highly sought after by both collectors and investors alike. Gold coins are a valuable investment, especially in stressed economic times as a way to diversify an investment portfolio. Rare gold coins have wide appeal as collectors' items and can increase in value exponentially over time. This guide provides purchasers with a deeper understanding of the factors that affect the value of gold coins and steps to take to maintain an investment. At Heritage Auctions, we believe information should be available to all to ensure the learning curve is made less steep and less expensive for new collectors and sellers. This article is intended for information purposes only and is not to be considered investment advice.

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Why Own Gold Coins
In addition to their historical significance, gold coins are an investment. Some of the advantages for purchasing gold coins include:
  • Potential for remarkable appreciation in value
  • Protection from market crashes and weakening dollar
  • Historical value as collector's items
  • A management-free investment that doesn't require daily monitoring or trading
  • Creates investment portfolio diversity
  • Small and easy to store
  • Can be transferred quickly and confidentially

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Buying and Selling Gold Coins

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Gold Coin Terminology
When it comes to investing in gold coins, it is advantageous to understand some of the commonly used terms associated with precious metal investing.

Term Definition
Assay   A means of guaranteeing the quality and purity of gold or silver.
Bagmarks   Small nicks and abrasion marks coins may receive during initial transportation process.
Brilliant Uncirculated   New coins that are in immaculate condition and have never been in circulation.
Buy/Sell Spreads   The difference between buying and selling prices relative to the spot price.
Circulated   Coins that have been distributed and used as public currency.
Condition   The grade of a coin (Mint State, Extremely Fine, etc.)
Date   The year of issue for a coin.
Grade   An evaluation of the amount of wear on a coin. The Sheldon scale rates coins from 1- 70 numerically, while the adjective scale runs from Basal to Mint State. Color considerations and strike quality can also be factors in grading.
Legal Tender   Coins that can be used as national currency.
Liquidity   The ease of buying and selling.
Mint   The facility that manufactured the coin.
Obverse   The front side of a coin, usually depicting a head or face.
Population   Refers to how many coins have been certified by a given grading service in that particular grade.
Proof   These coins have been struck with special dies that create greater pressure for a more highly polished and clear design. Collectible and often trade at higher premiums.
Purity   The percentage of precious metal content of a coin.
Reverse   The back side of a coin.
Spot Price   The up-to-date value of a precious metal determined by latest market trades.
Weight   The weight of a coin.

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Coins versus Bars or Rounds
The following table lists advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the various types of physical forms of gold.

  Description Advantage Disadvantage
Coins Thin, circular discs that have legal tender status and are produced by government mints Considered collectible

Potential for tremendous growth value
Uncirculated coins go for a slightly higher premium above spot than bars and rounds
Bars Thin, rectangle-shaped and are minted by private companies Stackable

Ease to store and transport

Low premium over spot price
Not considered "collectible"
Rounds Thin, circular discs minted by private companies or government and do not have status as legal tender Stackable

Ease to store and transport

Low premium over spot price
Generally considered "collectible"

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History of Gold Coins
Although gold as a form of currency has been traced back as far as the Bronze Age, it is the Lydian king Croesus who is generally credited with introducing gold into commerce in 6 th century BC. After the decline of the Roman Empire just after 400 AD, gold coins largely disappeared due to a shortage of gold supplies. Europe began to grow in the 1200s, with Venice and Florence becoming important trade cities that both issued gold coins that were known for their purity and widely accepted in trade. In 1266 Louis IX issues the first regal gold coinage in France with the introduction of the "ecu," while Edward III followed suit in 1344 with the "florin" as England's first regular gold coinage. These earlier coins were all hand-struck, and it wasn't until 1662 that the coin minting process was initially handled by machinery. Gold coins were in common use, until the economic pressures of the 20th century discontinued their circulation. Gold coins are a testament to the world's economic development, and many of these original coins survive today and sought out for their historical significance and value.

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