Jim Bisognani: World Gold Coins Continue to Rise

Posted on 3/21/2024

Although gold type coins are continuing to trend upward, there are some cheaper options out there for interested collectors. In addition, Jim asks young collectors for their input.

According to the calendar, spring has finally arrived. Yet, it sure doesn't feel like the season is changing. Bitter cold winds are howling, and we're in for some heavy snowfall. I have to keep telling myself, "Only a few more weeks." Seemingly in continuation of my last article, March Madness is still a major force in the metals arena, as gold spot has roared mightily past mid court and made a slam dunk to $2,200 per ounce, and it's poised for even higher levels!

Not to beat a dead horse (such a bad saying, I wouldn't do that), but the excitement and cheering heard by gold bugs everywhere is being combatted by the groans and moans of the average collector wondering if they can afford any US gold coins for their respective collections.

One long-time collector from Michigan was trying to justify filling out his US gold type set to me. "I need both Eagles and Double Eagles, and that's going to cost me about $7,000," he said. "I can't justify tying up that much capital into it."

Click images to enlarge.

I do concur, for all the excitement generated, there are no bargains in a $2,200 gold spot for the average collector.

Any dealer or collector must pay the piper's current market. One silver lining is that, at present, the spreads between the grades for Mint State-certified $20 Saint-Gaudens are ridiculous right now. Considering these numbers, the difference between an MS 62 and MS 64 is only $45 — and if you elevate that to MS 65 (with the current market maker quoting $2,395), that spread is 8.86% above the MS 62.

World gold coins are hot!

I have also witnessed many fellow coindexters chasing after certified world gold coins. Prices realized at auction for various world gold type coins in MS 64 or better are definitely being targeted and are on the move. One gold coin guy — Stan from Greensboro, NC — advised me that he has been moving away from US-certified gold type in favor of buying British, Australian and South African Gold Sovereigns. "I like them in MS 64 and MS 65," he said. "I also have a pair of 1925's graded NGC MS 66, which are quite flashy. I think most of the 1925s were held in vaults or something, and only a small percentage actually circulated."

That's true — most of the 1925 Gold Sovereigns were in vaults when Britain went off the gold standard in 1931, and it wasn't until World War II that a good portion were released, primarily to the troops needing some "recognizable" currency in gold coins when the allies breached the enemy lines.

Interestingly, those Gold Sovereigns bearing the 1925 date were also re-struck from 1949 through 1952. This was in response to the high demand for them in the burgeoning gold bullion market. In total, just 4.4 million examples were minted, which actually places the 1925 as the second-lowest mintage of the George V Gold Sovereigns. Yet, according to the NGC Census, of all the modern era Great Britain Sovereigns (1902-1968), nearly 28% of the NGC Census total are the 1925 Sovereign.

A golden diversion

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This "modern era" type coin would be a great alternative for fellow coindexters looking for a golden diversion, away from acquiring strictly US gold type coins.

For the hobbyists and gold bugs interested in acquiring an MS 65 or better representative, well, the 1925 fits the bill. The 1925 Gold Sovereign accounts for over 40% of the total modern era in MS 65, 50% of the MS 66 population and, in Ultra gem MS 67 (by the way, no modern era sovereigns grade higher), a mere 13 of the 28 examples in the NGC Census are the venerable 1925.

The British Sovereign is nearly equivalent to the US Five Dollar Gold Piece in size and heft. Many will collect a sovereign type set with representatives of the British monarchs — Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, etc.

Benedetto Pistrucci's timeless depiction of St. George and the Dragon on the reverse has always been a favorite of mine since I acquired my first Gold Sovereigns as a youth. Back then, I paid the princely sum of $12.50 for each of them. Ah, to go back in time, right?

Referencing that amazing reverse, once you start collecting British Sovereigns, you may divert and collect by mint mark! While the London Mint sovereigns have no mint mark, the other issuing Commonwealth countries do, and the mint mark is prominently placed on the reverse, just below St. George's steed's rear hooves. The mint marks are as follows:

  • M for Melbourne, Australia
  • P for Perth, Australia
  • S for Sydney, Australia
  • SA for South Africa
  • I for India
  • C for Canada

What a deal!

Of course, do your research. Many of the British Sovereigns are quite scarce — and to me, they are still an undervalued gold type.

For example, compare the 1925 British Sovereign with an 1899 Liberty Half Eagle with Motto type coin. In MS 65, the Half Eagle has a population of 746, which is comparable to the 796 for the 1925 Sovereign. However, the 1899 Half Eagle will cost you around $2,150, while the 1925 Sovereign can be bought for around $600.

Click images to enlarge.

Of course, there are many other possibilities and considerations to account for when deciding which gold type coin you want to collect. Whether it is certified or raw, one thing is for certain — gold coins are going to be expensive for the average collector.

As I mentioned earlier, I recall paying $12.50 for my first Gold Sovereigns. Today, at the time of writing this article, the melt value of a British Sovereign is nearly $515. That's certainly put this gold coin out of the budget range for most young collectors. 

Calling all youth coindexters!

As young coindexters are truly the ambassadors for the next generation of numismatists, I often wonder what makes them tick. I recall that, as a youngster, I was driven to the hobby for the sheer history behind coins. World coins truly opened up the whole world of numismatics for me. Of course, I stayed with the hobby, and it has been a driving force for nearly 60 years.

So, I would like to reach out to the young coindexters reading this — especially teens and younger. I truly want to hear about what you like to collect, and why it's important to you. What are your goals and favorite coins? Please email me at priceguide@ngccoin.com with your responses! I hope to feature some of you in an upcoming article.

Until next time, be safe and happy collecting!

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