Collecting gold coins can be an enjoyable and profitable hobby. Gold coins to buy for numismatic, or coin collecting, purposes is different from investing in gold. A coin collector buys coins for appearance. He purchases gold coins for much the same reasons as those of an art collector.

Gold coin image in public domain.

                     High relief Saint-Gaudens obverse image in public domain.

The United States Coin Mintage

The United States mints coins for circulation and collectors. Circulated coins are for common commerce and passed between businesses and individuals for paying for goods and services. The mint also makes uncirculated and proof coins for collectors. The dies for uncirculated and proof coins insure as close as possible to a perfect strike, or pressing. Frequent inspections and reworking or discarding dies keep the impressions sharp and crisp. The gold coin blanks are coated to insure luster and attractiveness. Currently, gold coins are made only for collectors. The mint doesn’t press gold coins for circulated purposes.

Numismatic Condition

Coin condition determines old gold coin prices. This standard determines a gold coins value. Even proof and uncirculated coins have different grades as they can have blemishes. This grading system applies to all minted coins and isn’t specific to gold money.

The American Numismatic Association, (ANA) determines the standard for these grades. Grading is on the alphanumeric Sheldon system based on a gold coin’s amount of wear. The ANA’s book, American Numismatic Association for Grading United States Coins is the standard. There are other books specialized for different types of coins, but they are based on the ANA standard.

The Sheldon system grades proof coins as the best, with proof (PF) 70 the closest to perfection. Mint state (MS) 65 is the highest grade for an uncirculated coin. It is uncirculated without wear or marks, but not a proof. The system grades circulated coins between those that are almost perfect showing slight wear down to coins good only for scrap.

Several companies grade coins, certify the grade and encapsulate the coin in plastic. They also certify the coin isn’t counterfeit which is not uncommon for high value gold coins. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) is one of these. Use companies only recognized and certified by the ANA.

Knowing condition is the most important part of coin collecting. One should have a good understanding for condition before purchasing gold coins. The price difference between coin grades is such that it determines profit or loss. This can be the difference between profitable and unprofitable gold coin collecting.

Best Gold Coins To Buy

The only new gold coins the mint produces is for collectors. It isn’t making gold coins for general circulation. These may be old designs, or for a special group or focus.

There are several ways to collect gold coins. Some collect by mintmark. Collectors select a gold coin, such as a 20 dollar piece, and collect one from each mint. They may choose a design, such as the Saint-Gaudens, and collect one of each denomination. Collect a gold coin of each denomination for a specific year. There are several ways to collect and the collector can determine which gold coins to buy according to their budget and preferences.

Gold Coins Value

Gold is a commodity, and gold coin collector prices reflect the metal’s price as a commodity. During bad economic times gold prices rise. When the economy is booming, gold price falls. 

Gold Coin Dealers

Knowing gold coin condition is the most important part of coin collecting and knowing the dealer is equally important. Choose one that is an ANA member and willing to give refunds if necessary.

It’s best not to buy a coin sight unseen. Know the rules before buying online or from a magazine ad. Buy gold coins online or out of a magazine only with the provision the items can be returned with a money back guarantee if it isn’t as advertised.

Gold Coins As Investment

Buying gold coins as an investment is different from collecting. Gold investment coins are bought and sold as bullion. The condition factor isn’t as important for bullion as gold content and weight.

Coin collecting is an enjoyable hobby, whether collecting silver or gold coins. It can also be profitable. Either buying gold coins as a collector, or gold coins for bullion, knowing the rules for each is critical to not lose money.