Silver and gold have always been viewed as symbolic of wealth or status. Even in prehistoric times, rare metals were prized for jewelry and religious artifacts. As the need for a medium of exchange grew beyond beads or shells, metal coins were introduced. Gold coins were made for the highest denominations, silver for the next highest, and the least valuable coins were typically made from copper.
By the early 1900s, the price of gold and silver outstripped the worth of the coins, leading governments to cut back or eliminate these metals’ use for coinage. Since the 1970s, however, modern bullion coins are again being struck by numerous nations. This has left many investors struggling with the issue of gold and silver bullion vs graded collectible coins.
Beginning with some of the first coins, there has been a concerted effort to create coins that were both consistent and attractive. Ancient coins normally bore the likeness of the current ruler, and most modern monarchies’ coins continue the practice. However, creativity was often given a free hand when it came to the reverse of the coin, and designs were often chosen that would be artistically pleasing to the population. This has led to many productions that have been valued as both art and money.
Coin collectors, or numismatists, became players in the modern bullion coin market during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1979, the Canadian Mint released the first Maple Leaf coins, the second nation to introduce a modern gold coin. The first was South Africa, which had begun minting Krugerrands to expand the market for their gold. Several nations banned ownership of gold by private citizens, but since the Krugerrands were “legal tender” the restrictions did not apply in most cases. Political boycotts of South African products, brought about by the country’s apartheid policies, meant that sales of Krugerrands were severely limited. Without such restrictions, the Canadian coins met with great success, leading other nations to enter the market with their own coins.
Some nations produce only a limited number of their coins each year. As an example, one-ounce Australian Gold “Kangaroo” coins are capped at 350,000 per year. While the obverse remains the same, the image on the reverse changes annually. Serious numismatists normally desire each coin in a series, but the low mint runs can cause supply shortages. Collectors often end up paying far more that the value of the gold just to obtain the coins.
Coins can be stacked more easily than bars, making home storage and transportation easier. In addition, the purity and weight is guaranteed by the government issuing the coins. All of these are factors when it is time to sell. Even when bars are marked and accompanied by a certificate, the buyer may be more skeptical. If selling, it is generally necessary to sell the entire bar. Coins can be found in weights that range from one-tenth of an ounce to a kilogram or more, so sellers can mix and match to reach a certain level.
No matter how bad an economy has been, silver and gold have never been without value. For example, during and immediately after the American Civil Way, the paper money issued by the Confederacy was so worthless it was often used to kindle fires. However, citizens with gold could still purchase food or meet obligations for taxes.
While precious metals are excellent investments, the non-standardization of bullion bars can lead to difficulties when it is time to sell. Jewelers normally prefer to buy bars, but most private consumers tend to prefer bullion coins. The beauty of the coins means that they can be viewed as art and may pass between many collectors over the years.
As the popularity of collectible coins increased, the variety of weights also increased. No matter how limited the investment budget might be, the market can be shared by virtually all consumers, not just the extremely rich. Many investors are deciding that coins are the better option when they compare gold and silver bullion vs graded collectible coins.
If you take part in the hobby of coin collecting, acquiring graded collectible coins is a goal that is reachable. Stephen Huston has more information about coins and gold and silver on his blog at Stephen Huston.com