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Understanding Coin Terminology

At U.S. Coins and Jewelry, we have compiled some information to help you gain a greater understanding of the terminology used in the coin market.

Denomination: Common-Date gold coins are available in the four main denominations: $20, $10, $5, $2.5 with gold content from about an ounce to an eighth of an ounce.

Design Type: 1907 is the key year separating the two major design types in U.S. Coinage. Prior to 1907, the Liberty head design was employed on all four denominations. In 1907, the switch was made to the $20 St. Gaudens, featuring the famous Walking Lady Liberty, and the $10, $5, and $2.5 Indians with Native American motifs.

Independent Grading Services: PCGS and NGC set the standard for the authentication and grading of Pre-1933 U.S. coins. These third-party firms assign a “grade” to each coin designating its state of preservation, with a 70 being a perfect coin. For this report, it’s important to know that any coin grading Mint State (MS)-60 and higher is in uncirculated condition. Furthermore, we only recommend common-date gold coins in the investment-grade range from MS-62 to MS-66 for the best value and upside potential.

Packaging: All PCGS and NGC graded coins are sonically sealed in plastic “slabs”. The slabs are tamper-proof.  The only way to remove one is by cracking it open. (See Anatomy of a Certified Coin, above).

Certificate of Grading and Authenticity: The “cert” is sealed in the slab above the coin and displays all of its biographical information – what year and at which mint it was made, denomination, type, grade, plus a bar code that registers it with the grading service.

The grading services, grading scale, slab, and certificates are all critical components of the system developed nearly 30 years ago that helped standardize the Pre-1933 U.S. gold coin market.

With a universal process and standards in place, these coins are extremely liquid and heavily traded each day across the industry. This system has created a healthy exchange market that is liquid, transparent, and reliable. We’re constantly evaluating the common-date gold market and our top recommendations are based on the most attractive values and long-term potential.


Excellent Fundamentals

To summarize, here are the main reasons you should consider common-date gold as an investment:

Diversification: A critical strategy for most investors, it makes good sense to spread your exposure across market segments to reduce risks and increase the strength of your portfolio as well as the potential for profits.

Fixed and Limited Supply: Because no more will be produced, common-date gold can rise in value quickly when demand overwhelms supply.

Twice the Demand: Pre-1933 U.S. gold coins are in demand by both collectors and investors with new buyers from both categories consistently entering the market.

A Younger Bull Market: As in the past, the modern bullion market is leading all metals segments in this long-term bull trend with many successful years ahead. Common-date gold is riding the same bull wave, but we’re convinced it’s at a younger stage in the cycle behind bullion, thus our conviction that our top recommendations are excellent opportunities for diversification and profit. The way we see it, this segment offers a way to “buy gold at yesterday’s prices” and profit as the gap closes in the future.

Solid Value at Current Levels: No one is certain what the future holds, but, as with stocks, a critical strategy in acquiring common-date gold is value. We only recommend coins that we’re convinced offer not only excellent long-term upside potential to their previous all-time highs, but also look undervalued in today’s changing marketplace.

Safety from Confiscation: It’s impossible to say how likely such action is or exactly how it would be executed. However, we believe that Pre-1933 U.S. gold coins have the best chance of being exempt from confiscation due to their track record of such status and the fact that they’re valued above their gold content. Therefore, Pre-1933 U.S. gold adds a greater insurance policy to your bullion as well as better upside potential.


Raw (Uncertified) Pre-1933 U.S. Gold

We also recommend considering “Raw” Pre-1933 U.S. Gold Coins. These are an exception to the rule of grading and certification. Raw gold coins still display attractive eye-appeal but are typically lower quality than their investment-grade, certified counterparts. They are not certified and graded by a third-party, and often trade closer to their gold content.

This interesting mix of attributes makes raw gold an ideal sub-segment for further diversification within the Pre-1933 U.S. gold market.

  • The larger coins ($20 and $10) offer similar gold content and exposure to rising gold prices as modern Gold Eagles.
  • Their price-point falls between that of modern bullion and their investment-grade, certified Pre-1933 counterparts.
  • Their fixed and limited supply still means better prospective profits than modern gold bullion alone.
  • As Pre-1933 coins, they offer far greater safety from potential government confiscation. It’s important to take advantage of the excellent values in common-date gold before a sudden surge in demand pushes prices higher.

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