FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHICH GOLD COINS ARE BETTER INVESTMENTS FOR ME?
bullion offerings (e.g. 24kt Gold Eagles, Silver Eagles, etc.), the Proof and Mint-marked versions of these coins sold on the U.S. Mint Web site have the same bullion purity content that the regular coins do, but they're struck to a higher standard of quality and in limited numbers. Both types of coins have the potential to be good investments, but which one you buy will depend on your collecting or investing goals. If your main purpose is to buy gold bullion as an investment, my recommendation is that you don't buy these coins at all, but buy generic gold bullion ingots and bars that are sold for a couple of percentage points over spot price. The U.S. Gold Eagle, as well as the Canadian Maple Leaf, Chinese Panda, and a few other coins issued by government mints all have premium mark-ups on them. The South African Krugerrand usually has lower premiums, but lowest of all are the ingots and bars issued by European banks and certain recognized private refiners. Some examples of the European bank ingot makers and refiners that are reputable are Credit-Suisse, PAMP, and Johnson-Matthey, and in the U.S. there's Engelhard and SilverTowne. If you are buying gold just to store bullion, then buy the types that carry the smallest commissions on them, which are the ingots and bars made by these refiners.

If, however, your interest is more in collecting beautiful coins that also happen to enjoy the solidity of bullion, you would go with the American Eagles, Maple Leafs, Pandas, etc., or better yet, buy classic U.S. gold, such as the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles, which trade at bullion value plus about 8%-10% for most dates and grades. These coins have the benefit of double potential: the gold in them will always be worth bullion value, no matter what, but the fact the bullion is stored in a 100-plus year old American coin also adds the possibility that it will increase in value for its rarity. We have no idea how many were melted during the melting spree in early 2008 when gold topped $1,000 an ounce, but these coins will only get rarer over time, and the premiums on them right now are minimal considering their rarity and potential.
AM I A COLLECTOR OR AN INVESTOR?
The first question you need to answer, in order to determine what to buy, is whether or not you're a collector or an investor. If you love the designs and images on coins and the way it feels to hold them, and the satisfaction of completing sets, then collect coins for their beauty and the enjoyment of the hobby. You can still buy with a view towards making a profit someday; most collectors have this goal in the back of their minds. If, however, your primary goal is to store up bullion against the potential doomsday, or you just hope that gold will go up in value and you'll be able to sell for a profit someday, then buy bullion and try to avoid paying the premium commissions that collectible bullion coins carry. As noted above, you can sort of straddle the fence on this by buying classic U.S. gold coins such as the Saint-Gaudens gold Eagles.
MORGAN DOLLARS IN GENERAL
The first thing you need to keep in mind about Morgan Dollars is that specimens that grade below AU-50 are, as a rule, only worth their silver bullion value. Of course, there are a few exceptions, especially for Morgan Dollars minted at Carson City, but most Morgan Dollars on the market today never circulated as regular coinage. The main reason for this is that the Mint produced hundreds of millions more Morgans during the 1800's than were needed for circulation, so they sat in vaults.

More than half a billion Morgan Dollars were minted between 1878 and 1904, and although nearly 3/4 of these were melted back down before being issued, the majority of the Morgans in the marketplace today didn't even leave the Mint until 1960. You can learn more about the history of the Morgan Dollar, which makes a fascinating story.

Because the Morgan Dollar series exists in generally higher grades than most other series, you should invest in only the highest grade specimens. If you can afford to buy Proof Morgans, you should, because those have performed very well over the last fifteen years. The next best investments are the very high grade, MS-65 or better. They are pricey compared to MS-60 to MS-63, but their incredible rarity in the age of encapsulation make them a good investment.
WHAT IS US 90% SILVER COIN AND WHY DO YOU RECOMMEND IT?
90% silver coin is quarters, dimes, and half-dollars minted before 1965. (90% silver coin does not include silver dollars.) Everyone knows that 4 quarters = 1 dollar. In the same way, 4 quarters minted before 1965 = 1 face value dollar. A face value dollar is how we sell 90% silver coin. So, when you ask for the price of 90% silver we will say it costs, for example, $25.00 per face value dollar. A face value dollar is either 10 dimes, four quarters, or two half-dollars. A face value dollar contains .715 ounces of silver. The standard trading unit for 90% silver coin is a “bag” of $1,000.00 face value, containing 715 troy ounces. You can purchase any portion of a bag that you wish. We recommend 90% silver coin simply because it is often the cheapest, most divisible, most widely recognised and traded form of silver.
WHAT ARE SILVER ROUNDS?
Silver Rounds are simply one ounce, 99.9% pure silver coins minted in the United States. They are made by various private refineries and are not just round “blanks” of silver. They all have varying pictures because the companies that mint them have varying production runs using different designs. Regardless of the picture on their front and back, all silver rounds we sell state clearly on their face, “1oz. Silver, 99.9% pure (or .999 fine).” We sometimes recommend Silver Rounds instead of 90% Silver Coin because premiums (not our commission—the premium is the percentage over the spot price that you pay for a coin) on both coins fluctuate for a variety of reasons. Since we consider it our duty to sell you liquid coins for the best price, sometimes our recommendations change.
WHY DO YOU RECOMMEND GOLD COINS LIKE KRUGERRANDS, AUSTRIAN 100 CORONAAES, AND MEXICAN 50 PESOS, AND WHAT ARE THEY?
We recommend these foreign coins because they cost less per ounce and give you more gold for your money than the American Eagle gold coin series (which is minted in the United States today). All of these coins are well known in the industry and any dealer will readily buy them. The 22 karat South African Krugerrand gold coin contains exactly one troy ounce of fine (pure) gold. The American Eagle copied the Krugerrand’s specifications, and is minted to exactly the same weight and fineness. The Austrian 100 Coronae is an official re-strike from the Austrian mint. It is 20 karat (90% pure) and contains exactly 0.9802 troy ounce fine gold. The Mexican 50 Peso is an official re-strike from the 400-year old Mexico City mint. A 20 karat coin, it contains exactly 1.2057 troy ounce of fine gold. These three coins take turns as the cheapest on our price sheet.
WHAT ABOUT THE PURITY OF THE KRUGERRAND, EAGLE, 50 PESO, AND AUSTRIAN 100 CORONAE? WILL THEY BE WORTH LESS LATER SINCE THEY’RE NOT 24 KARAT?
Purity is largely irrelevant among gold and silver dealers. Coins and bars are bought and sold based on their weight, not their purity. Unless you’re going to melt the coins down, it’s just not an issue and doesn’t affect the price.
WHY DO YOU RECOMMEND OLDER-ISSUE, FOREIGN FRACTIONAL GOLD COINS INSTEAD OF MODERN ISSUES OR AMERICAN EAGLE FRACTIONALS?
Modern issues like American Eagles, Maple Leaves, Philharmonics, and Nuggets include half, quarter, and tenth ounce coins: the smaller the coin, the higher the cost per ounce. With the smallest coins, premiums over the gold content approach 15%. That makes no economic sense because gold is gold. British sovereigns (containing 0.2354 troy ounce fine gold), French 20 francs (0.1867 oz.), Swiss 20 francs (0.1867 oz.), German 20 marks (0.2304 oz.), Netherlands 10 guilders (0.1947 oz.), the whole series of Mexican peso coins, and a number of other gold coins offer lower cost per ounce and good liquidity. Not recommended are gold coins so infrequently seen in this country that you will suffer a big discount when you sell them, such as Iranian pahlavis (0.2354 oz.) or Saudi guineas (0.2354 oz.). If you can’t sell them, they’re not a bargain.
NOWHERE IN YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS DO I SEE ANYTHING ABOUT PURE GOLD COINS LIKE THE CANADIAN MAPLE LEAF OR AUSTRIAN PHILHARMONIC. WHY NOT?
Gold is one of the softest and most ductile metals. Pure gold coins scratch and scar very easily unless handled with extreme care. Throughout history gold coins have generally been alloyed with copper or silver, hardening them to withstand circulation. Customers often unwittingly damage pure gold coins and therefore receive up to 5% less for them when they sell. In our opinion the purity of 24 karat gold confers no benefit and in fact often creates drawbacks.
WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT GOLD CONFISCATION, MONEYCHANGER?
We expect it more likely for you to be abducted by aliens than for the Federal Government to attempt gold confiscation. First, gold no longer forms a significant part of the monetary reserves in this country, as it did in 1934 and therefore, confiscation makes no sense. Second, the folks who tell you about government confiscation are generally trying to sell you overpriced coins that will line their pockets and empty yours.