Gold coin description
A gold coin is a coin that is made mostly or entirely of gold. Most gold coins minted since 1800 are 90–92% gold (22 karat), while most of today’s gold bullion coins are pure gold, such as the Britannia, Canadian Maple Leaf, and American Buffalo. Alloyed gold coins, like the American Gold Eagle and South African Krugerrand, are typically 91.7% gold by weight, with the remainder being silver and copper.
Gold coin description
Traditionally (up to about the 1930s), gold coins have been circulation coins, including coin-like bracteates and dinars. Since recent decades, however, gold coins are mainly produced as bullion coins to investors and as commemorative coins to collectors. While modern gold coins are also legal tender, they are not observed in everyday financial transactions, as the metal value normally exceeds the nominal value. For example, the American Gold Eagle, given a denomination of 50 USD, has a metal value of more than $1,200 USD.
Gold has been used as money for many reasons. It is fungible, with a low spread between the prices to buy and sell. Gold is also easily transportable, as it has a high value to weight ratio, compared to other commodities, such as silver. Gold can be re-coined, divided into smaller units, or re-melted into larger units such as gold bars, without destroying its metal value. The density of gold is higher than most other metals, making it difficult to pass counterfeits. Additionally, gold is extremely unreactive, hence it does not tarnish or corrode over time.
Many factors determine the value of a gold coin, such as its rarity, age, condition and the number originally minted. Most gold coins minted since the late 19th century are worth slightly more than spot price, but many are worth significantly more. Gold coins coveted by collectors include the Aureus, Solidus and Spur Ryal.
In July 2002, a very rare $20 1933 Double Eagle gold coin sold for a record $7,590,020 at Sotheby’s, making it by far the most valuable coin ever sold up to that time (a 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar sold for over $10 million in January 2013). In early 1933, more than 445,000 Double Eagle coins were struck by the U.S. Mint, but most of these were surrendered and melted down following Executive Order 6102. Only a few coins survived.
In 2007 the Royal Canadian Mint produced a 100 kilograms (220 lb) gold coin with a face value of $1,000,000, though the gold content was worth over $2 million at the time. It measures 50 centimetres (20 in) in diameter and is 3 centimetres (1.2 in) thick. It was intended as a one-off to promote a new line of Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins, but after several interested buyers came forward the mint announced it would manufacture them as ordered and sell them for between $2.5 million and $3 million. As of May 3, 2007, there were five orders. One of these coins has been stolen when it was on exhibition at the Bode Museumin Berlin.
On October 4, 2007, David Albanese (president of Albanese Rare Coins) stated that a $10, 1804-dated eagle coin (made for President Andrew Jackson as a diplomatic gift) was sold to an anonymous private collector for $5 million.
In 2012 the Royal Canadian Mint produced the world first gold coin with a 0.11–0.14ct diamond. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee coin has been crafted in 99.999% pure gold with a face value of $300. Gold coin description
For most of history, coins were valued based on the precious metal they contain. Whether a coin was actually made by the party as claimed was of secondary importance compared to whether it contains the correct amount of metal – that is, correct weight and fineness (purity). Genuine appearance was simply a convenient shortcut to avoid time-consuming tests in everyday transactions.
Gold is denser than almost all other metals, hence hard to fake. A determination of weight and volume is in many cases sufficient to spot forgeries. A coin that is not gold or below the expected fineness will either have the right size but will a lower than expected weight or it weighs right and will be somewhat larger. Most metals that are of similar or higher density than gold are similarly or more expensive, and were unknown in ancient times (notably the platinum group). During the 19th century platinum was cheaper than gold and was used for counterfeiting gold coins. These coins could be detected by acoustic properties. Only two relatively inexpensive substances are of similar density to gold: depleted uranium and tungsten. Depleted uranium is government-regulated, but tungsten is more commonly available and suited for counterfeiting. Alloying gold with tungsten would not work for several reasons, but tungsten plated with a thin layer of gold is a common type of forgery.
Bullion coin counterfeits (of all types) used to be rare and fairly easy to detect when comparing their weights, colors and sizes to authentic pieces. This is because the cost of reproducing any given coin precisely can exceed the market value of the originals. However, since about 2015 counterfeit coins are “flooding the market at an astonishing rate” and “it’s gotten to the point where even people who deal with coins all the time may not be able to recognize a counterfeit coin right away” (American Numismatic Association (ANA), 2016). The coins consist mostly of tungsten plated thinly with gold, have the correct weight, correct or near-correct dimensions and are professionally produced in China.
The weight and dimensions of a coin of .999 fineness such as the Maple Leaf cannot be replicated precisely by a gold plated tungsten core, since tungsten has only 99.74% of the specific gravity of gold. However, forgeries of alloyed gold coins (such as American gold eagle or Krugerrand made from a crown gold alloy with 22 karats = .917 fineness) may have correct the correct weight and dimensions because of the lesser density of the alloy. Such forgeries can be detected testing the acoustic, electric resistance or magnetic properties. The latter method uses the fact that gold is weakly diamagnetic and tungsten is weakly paramagnetic. The effect is weak so that testing requires strong neodymium magnets and sensitive conditions (e.g., a gold coin hanging from 2 m long pendulum or placed on styrofoam floating on water), such tests can be performed without special equipment. Forgeries using gold plated tungsten are also used in counterfeiting of gold bars. Gold coin description
Biting a coin to determine whether it is genuine or counterfeit is a widespread cliché depicted in many movies (see The Immigrant (1917 film)). While fine gold is softer than alloyed gold, and galvanized lead is softer, biting coins can only detect the crudest of forgeries and its widespread use is almost certainly a myth