What Is The Rate of It? Buying Gold Coins in the U.S.

Buying gold coins has never been more popular than it is in America today. The economic uncertainty, financial market volatility and collapse of the real estate market in the U.S. has driven millions of concerned Americans toward gold, and the most popular way to own gold is to own gold coins.

There are two main categories of gold coins on the U.S. market: gold bullion coins, such as the American Eagle Gold Bullion Coin and rare gold coins, such as the Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle gold piece.

Determining the Price of Rare Gold Coins

There are dozens of different varieties of rare gold coins available to collectors and investors and their price depends on two factors:

  1. Rarity
  2. Condition

The rarity of a gold coin refers to the number of examples available for purchase on the marketplace. Some gold coins are quite common, while others are exceedingly rare and make appearances on the market perhaps once in a decade.

Obviously, the rarer the coin, the more valuable the coin. And it is important to realize that coins of the same type, but minted in different years can be widely divergent in terms of price.

For instance, the 1924 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is relatively common and sells for under $2,000 in the lower investment grades. But the 1921 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is very rare and sells for well into six figures—when and if you can find one.

The condition of a coin refers to its level of preservation. The better the condition, or level of preservation, the higher its price.

The condition of a coin is expressed by its grade. Grades are assigned numerically on a 70-point scale, with 70 being a “perfect” coin.

Typically the higher the grade, the higher the price of a rare gold coin.

Determining the Price of Gold Bullion Coins

Determining the price of a gold bullion coin is considerably simpler than the price of a rare gold coin. First of all, bullion coins are not as valuable as rare gold coins. Second, their value is completely a function of their gold content, plus a small premium tacked on to pay for manufacture, transport, and marketing.

The prices of gold bullion coins are often quoted in major newspapers and online at web sites belonging to financial news organizations, as well as coin dealers.

Price Discovery for Rare Gold Coins

There are also traditional price guides published periodically which can be of utility in determining the price of a gold coin. Two of the most popular are The Certified Coin Dealer Newsletter and Coin Values. Both of these publications are well-regarded in the industry and have been around for years serving the needs of collectors, investors and dealers alike.

Of course, for the rarest gold coins, the “ultra-rarities,” it is often not possible to get a current price on a coin until the point of sale. If only 3 examples of a particular coin are known to exist and all are held in collections or portfolios, the current price is difficult to determine. The marketplace can only determine the value of an ultra-rarity when that coin becomes available for sale on the market.