Coins in History
Gold coins have been used for many centuries. They were first struck in the 6th century in Western Turkey and Greek coins dating 336-323 BC have been found that were stamped with the images of kings. Between 200-400 AD the Romans minted hundreds of millions of coins. The Empire Era tender is found throughout Europe and are very common in Britain. Since the 1960s' most countries have developed their own gold tender which are used both as an investment tool and for collection. The tender can be very valuable, some selling for several million dollars, depending on their age, rarity, condition and the number that was originally minted.
The creation of gold tender saw a resurgence in the 1967 when South Africa begin minting the South African Krugerrands as a way to help market South African gold. In 1990, Krugerrands accounted for 90% of the coin market. Krugerrands have been offered in 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce, half-ounce and one ounce tender since 1980. The tender provides a means for private ownership and were originally intended to circulate as currency. While a face value is printed on the tender, this is not their "real" value which is based on Troy weight, the current price of precious metals, and the prevailing premium that the market will pay.
Due to this fact, the tender is made of a gold alloy that is 91.67% pure (22 karats) and 8.33% copper which gives the tender an orange tint. The combination of metals makes the coins more durable and resistant to scratches and dents than tender that is made primarily for collectors. The South African mints Limited Edition Krugerrands that are highly sought by collectors. The tender is priced above bullion prices and have 220 serrations as opposed to the 160 serrations found on the tender that are intended for circulation. The Krugerrand reflects President Paul Kruger on the face with both Afrikaans and English name of country. On the back, a Springbok Antelope is shown with the date the coin was struck and the weight of the coin. The face value is not shown on this tender.
In 1979, Canada began minting the Canadian Maple Leaf Gold coin. This tender is unique because it is the purest, regular-issue tender in the world, made of 24 karat, . 9999 millesimal fineness. The tender contains almost no base metals and the gold used is exclusive to Canadian Gold Mines. The coins hare legal tender in Canada and are available in 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 ounce denominations of $1.00, $5.00, $10.00, $20.00 and $50.00. In 1988, the mint also struck the tender in Platinum which is also a highly collectible coin set. On May 3, 2007, the min struck a coin with a $1 million face value that, at the time was valued at $2 million dollars. The diameter of the coin is 50cm and it is 3cm thick. The face of this coin has an image of the Queen of England, date struck and face value on one side and the Canadian Maple Leave, Weight, and percentage of gold in the coin on the reverse side.
The Chinese began minting the Chinese Gold Panda coins in 1982. This tender is very unique because, unlike the other gold coins, their design changes each year. The only year that the design stayed the same was 2001 and 2002 when coins were minted with a Panda on the face. The tender was originally minted in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 ounce denominations, however in 1983, the 1/20 troy ounce coin was added. Larger tender of 5 and 12 troy ounce have been issued in some years that are proof-like Brilliant un-circulated tender. A unique feature of the tender, and a challenge for many collectors, is that the tender is made at several mints in China, but there are no mint-marks on the tender, as there are on the tender of other countries. The way that the mint is distinguished are through minor variations in the size of the date, style of the temple, etc., which identify the originating mint. The design of the coin has a temple and the date the coin was struck on the face, and an illustration of giant Pandas (that change yearly) as well as the weight and face value of the coin on the reverse side.
Gold tender was minted in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, however in 1933, Executive Order 6102, signed by President Roosevelt required that precious metals be surrendered to the government. Therefore, of the more than 445,000 Double Eagle coins in circulation prior to this date, very few survived. This was very apparent when in July 2001 a $20 1933 Double Eagle sold for over $7 million dollars.
The American Eagle series began being minted in 1986, shortly after the passage of the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985. The tender is 22 Karat and combined with both silver and copper to make them durable, sturdy and wear resistant. These coins are 91.67% gold, 3% silver and 5.33% copper and are in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 oz denominations with a face value of $5, $10, $25 and $50. In July, 2010, the "real" assessed value of the coins was $145, $325, $650 and $1250. From 1986 - 1991 the coins were dated with Roman Numerals, however in 1992 this was changed to Arabic numbers. The mint creates a proof version which is more brilliant for collectors. The face of the coin has Liberty holding the torch of freedom and the date it was struck. The obverse side reflect a soaring Eagle and the weight and face value of the coin.
There are many reasons that people begin collecting this tender, however, for most individuals who collect these types of tender, the motivation lies in their accruing value over the years. The value of gold fluctuates on a daily basis making the "real" value of an individual's collection change with the market. However, another reason for collecting is the challenge of finding unique and rare coins in places that they would not normally be found.
Many people begin collecting and trading this tender that are in circulation when they are young and, as their interest develops, they will begin making investments in rarer coins that are more difficult to find and gain in value because of their rarity and condition. Many children develop an interest in collecting when they receive their first collection book and are able to learn about the history of the tender they are collecting.
For a person interested in collecting, there are large networks of individuals with the same interests in most cities and towns. Many meet on a regular basis or have discussion groups and boards on the internet where you can learn more about this interesting and intriguing part of history.