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How Small Can You Make Them?
April 21, 2009



There is some talk among the producers of coins from precious metals that a half gram size is needed.

When I first saw this, I had to read it a second time. Half gram? Not half ounce?

There are more than 31 grams in a troy ounce, 31.103 to be precise. A half gram coin would be smaller than 1/60th the size.

The rationale is that a smaller size would be more affordable. To illustrate, if gold were $900 an ounce. A half gram coin would contain roughly $15 in bullion value.

I am rounding. Please, don't make me use a calculator.

Oh, never mind. I will probably have to get one out to finish making my point.

Is there really a large unmet demand by $15 gold buyer's? I haven't noticed.

What I do know is the U.S. gold dollar, which was introduced in 1849 because at the time the United States was swimming in the precious metal bonanza from the California Gold Rush, was never popular because of its small and inconvenient size.

During its lifetime they even made it thinner to increase the diameter to 15mm from 13mm. For comparison, the dime is 17.9mm.

The dollar coin is actually more than three times the size of half a gram. It weighs in at 1.672.

Somehow, I think the world's coin manufacturers should catch up with the demand for the one-ounce coin first. But then, the premium on the one-ounce coin is far lower than the mark-up would be for half a gram.

After all, what's an extra $15 or $20 tacked onto a half gram gold coin price. Remember, you are paying for convenience. Yeah, right.



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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News, Bank Note Reporter and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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