Gold Coins

Gold Austrian Philharmonic

gold austrian philharmonic

Fineness: .9999
Actual Pure Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce
Diameter: 37mm
Face value: 2000 schillings or 100 euro

(Also minted in 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 ounce sizes

The Austrian (also Vienna) Philharmonic is the best-selling gold coin in Europe. Attesting to its international popularity as one of the “pure gold coins” the Philharmonic led sales worldwide in 1992, 1995 and 1996, according to the World Gold Council. In 2008, at the height of the worldwidecredit-financial crisis, more one-ounce Philharmonics were sold on a global basis than U.S. Eagles or Krugerrands. Like its competitors, the Philharmonic tracks the gold price and is internationally liquid.

As already mentioned, the Philharmonic is struck in pure, 24-karat gold. The obverse of the coin depicts the great organ in Vienna’s concert hall, home of the famed Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The obverse shows a harmonious medley of musical instruments — a string base, cellos, violins, abassoon, harp and Viennese horn. The Philharmonic is minted in one-ounce (troy), half-ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth ounce sizes with successive face values of 100, 50, 25 and 10 euros respectively. Earlier mintages before the creation of the euro were denominated in schillings.

In 2004, the Austrian Mint issued a 1000-ounce gold Philharmonic to mark the 15th anniversary of the popular bullion coin. It has a face value of 100,000 euros. Fifteen coins were struck and they sold out within two weeks of offer. The relief on the coin was sculpted by computer and finished by hand. Each coin took 130 hours to mint. Not to be mistaken for pocket change, the 1000-ounce Philharmonic is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest gold coin.

Gold American Eagle


Fineness: .916
Actual Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce (31.103 grams)
Diameter: 32.7 mm
Face value: $50
(also minted in 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 ounce sizes)

The U.S. (also American) Eagle gold bullion coin is the most popular among investors in the United States. Over 13 million of the one-ounce coin have been minted and distributed since the coin was introduced in 1986. In 2009 alone, 1,493,000 American gold eagles were produced. In 2008, at theheight of the credit-financial crisis, the mint was forced to go to an allocation system because it could not keep up with burgeoning demand. Still, it produced 710,000 one-ounce coins during the course of the year. By way of comparison, the U.S. Mint produced a little over 140,000 one-ounce coins during the relatively quiet year of 2007.

The 1986 American Eagle began life as an idea presented by Congressman Ron Paul to President Ronald Reagan’s Gold Commission in 1981. Congress enacted the “Gold Bullion Act of 1985” and quickly thereafter the Eagle became one of the most popular gold coins in the world. The Gold Bullion Act stipulates that the gold used for producing American Eagles comes from newly mined sources within the United States.

The obverse depicts lady liberty striding from the coin — a reproduction of Augustus St. Gaudens’ famous design for the Double Eagle commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century. The reverse displays a family of gold eagles with the male carrying an olive branch and flying above the nest, the fine gold weight of the coin and its face value.

American eagles are legal tender coins minted in one-ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce and tenth-ounce sizes. Produced at the West Point Mint, it is an alloyed coin at 22 karats, or .916 fine. The 1986 to 1991 mintages have Roman numeral dates. Arabic numeral dates are used on successive mintages.

Gold Canadian Maple Leaf


Fineness: .9999
Actual Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce (31.103 grams)
Diameter: 30 mm
Face value: $50

(also minted in 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 ounce sizes)

Canada made its entry in the competitive bullion gold coin market in 1979 with the Maple Leaf, the first pure gold bullion coin — a concept which quickly garnered a significant share of market interest. In early advertisements, Maple Leaf coins were pictured flowing from a gold bullion bar — an artifice which effectively made the point that bullion gold coins’ pricing was related to the spot price. At the time of its unveiling, the Maple Leaf’s only competitor was the South African Krugerrand — a coin alloyed with copper to 22 karat. It is produced in one-ounce, one-half ounce, quarter-ounce and one-tenth ounce sizes.

Early Maple Leaf bullion coins were minted at .999 purity, but in 1982 the Royal Canadian Mint went to the .9999 pure gold coin — the standard to which it produces coins today. Each coin bears the .9999 purity stamp along with the date, the weight and the face value. The Canadian Maple Leaf is a legal tender gold coin — a status that allows it to be used as currency and in debt settlements. The earlier issues with the .999 stamp trade at a discount to the later mintages.

The Maple Leaf gold coins were a major beneficiary of the credit and financial crisis which began in 2008. That year the Royal Canadian Mint reported an unprecedented jump in bullion coin sales — from 278,600 ounces in 2007 to 896,000 in 2008. Whereas the other national mints had trouble keeping up with demand, the Winnipeg mint seemed much better equipped to deal with the onslaught, and Maple Leaf availability remained steady throughout the 2007-2009 period.

South African Krugerrand


Fineness: .9167
Actual Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce (31.103 grams)

Diameter: 34 mm
(also minted in 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 ounce sizes)

The history of South Africa is inextricably bound to gold. Since the time the metal was first discovered in the Transvaal by Alec “Wheelbarrow” Patterson in 1873, the international ebb and flow of gold’s fortunes figured directly in the fortunes of South Africa itself. The two Boer Wars in the late 19th century, between Dutch (Afrikaners) and British settlers, were essentially territorial battles over the South African gold fields. Paul Kruger, whose portrait graces the obverse of the famed Krugerrand bullion gold coin, led the Afrikaners and in 1883 became the first president of the new South African Republic. At the end of the 19th century, the Second Boer War culminated in defeat of the Afrikaners resulting in British accession to sovereignty.

Shortly thereafter, the Union of South Africa became the largest gold producing country in the world — a position it held for most of the 20th century with production at times accounting for as much as one-third the world’s total output. Now, the South African mines, some of the deepest in the world, are in decline, and South Africa ranks as the world’s second largest producer behind China.

The first Krugerrand was minted in 1967 as a gold bullion coin, the value of which was based upon the international spot price of the metal. The concept of a one ounce gold coin tied to spot gold’s fluctuations quickly caught on. Nearly 50 million have been minted since 1967.

The Krugerrand is an alloyed coin at 22 karats, or .9167 purity. Denominated as one ounce of gold, it is struck with no face value indicated on the coin. Quite often contemporary investors purchasing Krugerrands are surprised to discover the coin they purchased bears a date other than the current year. This is testimony to the coin’s duration as a market item and the strong secondary market it enjoys.

Featured on the coin’s reverse is the springbok, a natural inhabitant of the dry savannahs able to run at speeds up to 80 km/hr and jump over 10 meters. The springbok is the icon of the national rugby team.

The Krugerrand was the first legal tender gold bullion coin to gain worldwide use in the modern era. To this day, many gold owners equate gold ownership with Krugerrand ownership. The Krugerrand as a bullion item received its first competition from the Canadian Maple Leaf, introduced in 1979. Eventually the Krugerrand was supplanted as the world’s top seller — in 1984 the U.S. Congress banned the import of the Krugerrand as part of the economic sanctions imposed on South Africa. The premium dropped to slightly-above the spot gold price and has only recently recovered in concert with the latest bull market rally in gold.

American Buffalo 

Fineness: .9999
Actual Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce (31.103 grams)
Face value: $50

The American Buffalo gold bullion coins are struck by the United States Mint’s facility at West Point and have the distinction of being the first pure gold (.9999 fine, 24-karat gold) coins ever struck by the U.S. Mint for public sale as an investment product. Production of these coins was authorized by the Presidential $1 Coin Act (Public Law 109-145, dated December 22, 2005) which provides for gold bullion to be minted in the form of $50 legal tender coins, conveying that the content and purity is guaranteed by the United States Government.

According to the official U.S. Mint press release on June 20, 2006:

“This American Buffalo Gold Coin will appeal to both investors who choose to hold gold and to others who simply love gold,” said Deputy Director David A. Lebryk during the ceremonial striking at the United States Mint at West Point, where the coins are being produced. “These classic and beautiful American Indian and buffalo designs by James Earle Fraser [a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens], which have been American favorites since they were first used in 1913, recall a golden age of coin artistry.”

[These bullion coins] portray the images of the revered Buffalo Nickel of 1913, Type 1. The iconic James Earle Fraser image of an American bison graces the reverse (tails side), and Fraser’s classic design of an American Indian is featured on the obverse (heads side). The American Buffalo Gold Coin has inscriptions of the coin’s weight, denomination and gold content incused on the reverse (Buffalo side) in the design area commonly known as the “grassy mound.”

Gold Australian Kangaroo

Fineness: .9999
Actual Gold Content: 1.0 troy ounce (31.103 grams)
Diameter: 32.1 mm
Face value: $100

(Also minted in 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 ounce sizes)

The Australian Kangaroo, like the Chinese Panda, incorporates a different design each year. Only in Australia’s case it features the famous marsupial, after which it is named. First produced in 1989, the mintages are generally low when compared to other gold bullion coins — a feature that heightens its appeal as a collectors’ item.

The Kangaroo is a pure, legal-tender gold coin (.9999 fine) and comes in one-ounce (troy), half-ounce, quarter-ounce, tenth-ounce and twentieth-ounce sizes. The Kangaroo also comes uniquely in a kilo-sized gold coin weighing 32.15 ounces. The coins come in protective wrappers to protect the delicate pure gold surfaces. The obverse of the coin bears the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. The coins are struck with their weight, the face value and the purity. All issues are struck by the Perth Mint and valued for their high-quality finish and artistic workmanship.