Gold. The most popular of all precious metals. But, over the years, which issues have proven the most important? With a history dating back thousands of years, gold was loved by the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, and Ancient Egyptians. Throughout time since, our love affair with this spellbinding precious metal has not wavered and today, collectors and investors clamber to own as much gold as possible.
Here, we go through just five of the most important gold issues in today’s modern world.
1. The South African Gold Krugerrand
The forerunner for ALL of the modern world’s gold trading coins, the Krugerrand is perhaps also the most famous. Whilst this fame might partly be apportioned (or perhaps not!) to the coin’s starring role in the second of the hugely popular Lethal Weapon movies – Lethal Weapon 2 – it is also because the Krugerrand was the first modern gold coin struck purely for gold trading and thus garnered 90% of the world’s gold bullion coin sales up until 1980! The Krugerrand is certainly the inspiration for many of the coins to follow on this list!
Struck from a copper and gold alloy, this coin actually weighs in at more than the now standard one ounce – that is because, though the Krugerrand is only 22k, there is actually a full ounce of pure gold in every coin!
2. The Largest Gold Coins in the world – The Philly, The Maple, The Perth 1 tonner.
An amazing triumvirate, the three coins taking up this position on our list are…. absolutely breathtaking. Way back in 2004, this trio began with the Austrian Mint creating a HUGE 37cm 1,000oz version of their then 15 year old Gold Philharmonic trading coin. Worth a staggering 100,000€ in face value, this coin was specifically designed to be the exact equivalent of 1,000 of the standard, 1 ounce gold philharmonic.
Three years later, the Royal Canadian Mint seized the gauntlet from the Austrians and created an EVEN BIGGER 100kg Gold Maple Leaf coin! Snatching the Guinness World Record for the World’s biggest gold coin, the Canadian behemoth is the equivalent of 3,215 of the regular 1oz Gold Maple Leaf and is created from an amazingly pure .99999 fine gold base. Even more amazing, the Mint has actually managed to sell 5 of this coin to collectors and investors around the world!
The final member of our Gargantuan Gold Gathering… is The Perth Mint’s ONE TONNE gold coin. Yes, that’s right, one tonne! The current, reigning, and defending champion of large gold coins, it is hard to imagine this one tonne monster ever being toppled from its perch. Cast, rather than struck, this beast measures nearly 80cm wide, is over 12cm thick and has legal tender status of 1 million Australian Dollars.
In terms of sheer amazement value alone, these three gigantic coins thoroughly deserve their place on a list of most important gold coins.
3. The British Gold Sovereign
In this writer’s opinion, the most beautiful of all gold trading coins. The Royal Mint’s sovereign was first issued in its current format under King George III in 1817. Measuring a comparatively small 21.5mm in diameter, the sovereign became an immensely popular trading coin throughout Europe because of the guaranteed quality, weight and purity of the coin, such was the high respect held for Britain’s Royal Mint.
Technically denominated as £1, the sovereign slowly ceased to act as a circulating coin throughout the British colonies following the First World War. The last circulation sovereign struck was in the South African colony of Pretoria in 1932, bearing the “SA” mintmark.
Subsequent to the final circulating sovereign, from 1957 through 1982, bullion examples were struck in large numbers. However, this was followed by another hiatus, during which only collector Proof coins were produced. Since the year 2000 though, The Royal Mint produces an annual sovereign issue for both collector and gold trading markets.
With a history tracing back to medieval times, before its reinvention in 1817, the Gold Sovereign is an extremely historic gold coin that is, to this day, loved across the world.
4. The American Gold Eagle
First issued under the US Gold Bullion Act in 1986, the US Eagle is a hugely popular trade coin, issued annually by the US Mint. Also issued at a purity of 22k, the US Eagle’s popularity may well be traced back to the turn of the 20th century and a sculptor by the name of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Commissioned to overhaul the US Coinage designs, one of his most beautiful coins was the Double Eagle $20 featuring, on one side, the lovely Lady Liberty. Widely adored, it is the Lady Liberty design that today appears on one side of the American Gold Eagle and its beauty is perhaps a large part of the reason for the coins popularity with gold traders and collectors alike.
5. The Melbourne Mint Kangaroo
The youngest member of our list, and perhaps a cheeky inclusion, the Melbourne Mint Gold Kangaroo Round actually bears a history of tradition that goes back to 1850’s Melbourne – the capital of Victoria and the beneficiary of one of the largest gold rushes in the world at that time. In 1853, W.J. Taylor attempted to set up minting facilities in the Melbourne city aiming to profiteer off of the ample gold coming out of the Bendigo and Ballarat goldfields by striking his Kangaroo Office bullion trading “coins”. Featuring a standing Kangaroo inside an outer “guilloche” patterned rim, the original coins bear distinct similarities with today’s Melbourne Mint Kangaroos.
Now struck for three consecutive years, in 2012, 2013 and 2014, Melbourne’s Mint’s gold round is starting to garner attention across the globe as a new, high quality, gold trading piece.