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World Gold Coin Collections

Learn to Collect World Gold Coins by Series, Country, Region & More!

Gold Rush | Collecting World Gold Coins
This article is from Gold Rush,
by Arlyn Sieber & Mitchell A. Battino

World gold coins offer a vast scope of collecting opportunities. There are a multitude of countries from which to choose, each with its unique history, designs, and gold-coin traditions. There are a multitude of sizes from which to choose. There are a multitude of price ranges; even some gold coins going back as far as the 1600s are affordable for many collectors. And there are a multitude of strategies collectors and investors can use to build their collections.

Great Britain, George IV | World Gold Coins

Great Britain, sovereign, 1826,
George IV, ruled 1820-1830

When deciding which gold coins to acquire, a collector should start with the basic guidelines that apply to any coincollecting pursuit: Collect what you like, have a road map, and buy the best you can afford. The basic tenet that a collection can be whatever a collector wants it to be also applies to gold coins. Following, however, are some tips and comments on traditional collecting strategies and their application to world gold coins.

France, Napoleon III | World Gold Coins

France, 1864, 20 francs,
Napoleon III, ruled 1852-1870

Collecting World Gold Coins by Series

The traditional coin-collecting pursuit of acquiring one example of each date and mint mark within a particular series may seem daunting at first considering the vast scope of world gold coins. Some denominations and designs within those denominations span several decades or even a century or more. But the task becomes less daunting with a further breakdown of a particular series.

For example, Great Britain introduced new gold half sovereign and sovereign coins in 1817. The half sovereign was struck through 1915, and the sovereign was struck through 1917 and again in 1925. Proof-only versions of each were struck in 1937. The sovereign was struck again from 1957 through 1968. Modern collector versions of the half sovereign were struck starting in 1980 and of the sovereign starting in 1974.

A collector could focus on one or the other denomination starting in 1817 and continuing through 1915 for the half sovereign and 1925 for the sovereign. Assembling a complete collection of either denomination would require time and prudent management of a collecting budget, but most individual dates within those series are affordable for many collectors.

To get started, a collector could focus on acquiring one example of each design type within one of the series or one example of each monarch depicted within the series. Once that goal is completed, the collector could then start filling in the other dates in the series. Eventually, a collection of one or even both series could be completed.

This same breakdown and step-by-step approach can be applied to many other series in world gold coinage.

Italy, Viottorio Emanuele II | World Gold Coins

Italy, 20 lire, 1873, Viottorio
Emanuele II, ruled 1861-1878

Collecting World Gold Coins by Country

Collectors sometimes focus on coins of a particular country because of some emotional nexus with that land. It may have been their ancestors’ homeland, or they may simply like the coin designs and history of a particular country.

Many strategies can be pursued within the scope of collecting by country. A collector may attempt to acquire one example of each ruler whose image appeared on the country’s gold coinage or focus on the coinage of one particular ruler. Or the collector may pursue one example of each gold denomination or design type produced. Any of the collecting goals could also be narrowed to a certain period – a particular century, for example, or range of years with some historical or personal significance.

Argentina (5 pesos) | World Gold Coins

Argentina, argentino (5 pesos), 1887

Collecting World Gold Coins by Region

A gold-coin collection could also focus on a particular continent or geographic region within that continent. Examples of the former include coins of South America or the Middle East. Examples of the latter include coins of the German States, the Iberian Peninsula, or colonies of a particular country.

Assembling a complete collection of all coins of a particular region is not practical for most collectors, so a further breakdown in collecting goals are in order. That could include focusing on a particular ruler, period, denomination, or some combination thereof. It could also include some form of type collecting – one coin of each ruler, for example.

Venezuela, 10 bolivares, 1930 | World Gold Coins

Venezuela, 10 bolivares, 1930

Collecting World Gold Coins by Empire

A coin collection can be a virtual history book of an empire. It would document the dates of the empire’s rise to power and fall or contraction of power. It would document the rulers that reigned over the empire. And it would document the various lands that fell under the empire’s domain, including the dates of conquest and the dates of loss or independence.

Great Britain, Victoria | World Gold Coins

Great Britain, sovereign (1887-1892),
Victoria, ruled 1837-1901

Collecting World Gold Coins by Era

Some collectors focus on gold coins of a particular era. It could be a certain century, the reign of a certain monarch, an era with personal significance to a collector, or an important historical time.

For example, a collector could focus on the age of exploration and colonization of the New World. Gold coins of this era could include those produced in the colonies and those produced in the mother land with gold shipped back from the colonies. It could also include the first coins produced by newly independent nations as they broke away from their colonial status. There are many other possibilities limited only to a collector’s imagination and his or her historical interests.

Great Britain, Elizabeth II | World Gold Coins

Great Britain, sovereign (1957-1968),
Elizabeth II, ruled since 1952

Collecting World Gold Coins, One per Country

Another common collecting strategy is to acquire one example of the coinage of as many countries as possible. Narrowing the focus here could include a particular geographic region, century, or era. It could also include a particular coin type issued across geographical boundaries. For example, many countries issued gold trade coins called ducats. A collector could focus on acquiring one ducat from each country that issued this type. Some countries issued coins with the same or similar specifications to coins issued in other countries. For example, France’s 20-franc piece of the 1800s had the same specifications as Italy’s 20- lira coin of the same era (6.4516 grams total weight, 0.900-fine gold, 0.1867 ounces of gold). A collector could pursue examples of these international specifications by either series or type.


Collecting World Gold Coins by Theme

Modern commemorative and circulation coinage designs gave rise to collecting coins with a common theme. Examples include coins that depict animals or ships, coins from one or more countries that commemorate a certain event, or coins of a certain date, such as 2000.

Modern coinage can complement a collection of the classics. For example, a collection of coins from the era of exploration could be accessorized by modern coins that commemorate anniversaries associated with those explorations. A collection can also be built around a certain event. For example, Great Britain and many lands still associated with the British monarchy issued commemorative coins to mark the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign in 2002. These recent coins could be combined with coins from the 1950s that first depicted the queen.


World Gold Coin Collections, by Collector's Choice

As noted above, various aspects of the listed strategies overlap and can be combined and mixed to form a goal that interests an individual collector. The result should be a goldcoin collection that is affordable and attainable for the collector, and a collection that brings enjoyment and satisfaction.

More in this Section:

  • History of Gold >>
  • Collecting Gold Coins >>
  • History of Gold Coins >>
  • The Jefferson Plan (U.S. Mints) >>
  • Collecting U.S. Gold Coins >>
  • << Back to Precious Metals (Gold & Silver)


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