One question we are asked a lot at National Coin Broker is what the difference is between numismatic coins and bullion coins.  One must exist for each coin to bear a different name, and indeed there is a difference.  To understand what it is, let’s first look at bullion coins.

Bullion Coins

Bullion coins are produced by mints to have a specific amount of a precious metal. Each coin struck contains a specific weight (ounce, half ounce, grams, etc.) of the precious metal.  Metals are considered precious if they are rare.  Currently, bullion coins are made from gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.  Precious metals in bullion form are traded on commodity markets and through established dealer networks throughout the world.

Many nations mint bullion coins. Although nominally issued as legal tender, the face value of these coins as currency is far below their value as bullion. For instance, Canada mints a gold Maple Leaf bullion coin at a face value of $50, but it contains one troy ounce (31.1035 g) of gold, placing its inherent value at the spot price of gold .  For this reason, bullion coins are almost never used as actual currency.

Examples of bullion coins:


Numismatic Coins

Numismatic coins are priced not for their inherent value determined by their precious metal content, but for their rarity value, usually determined by collectors buying and selling them.  These coins are highly prized by collectors, and depending on the rarity of the coin, they can command six figure prices.  High quality rare coins are usually graded by either the Professional Coin Grading Service or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.  Both services carefully examine each coin submitted, give it a rarity and condition rating, encapsulate the coin and finally add the grading certification to the capsule.

Examples of numismatic coins

Which one to buy?

Determining whether you should buy bullion coins or numismatic coins is largely dependent on what your long term goals are for the coin.  Gold and silver bullion coins along with investment quality numismatic coins dated prior to 1933 have consistently proven themselves to be an ideal strategy for the long-term.  For ensuring long-term family wealth, the best numismatic assets are certified investment quality, pre-1933 U.S. gold $20 coins with Liberty and Saint-Gaudens designs imprinted on them.

Your options and choices are various and can be confusing.  If you would like to have a free consultation with an expert on numismatic and bullion coins, please sign up for a free webinar today.