04/07/2022 Latest News, Coins, Medals & Banknotes, Jewellery & Gems
Rather than leaving all your hard-earned cash on deposit, earning nothing, you might consider putting some of your savings into precious metals such as gold and silver. You can buy actual bars or ingots of pure gold or silver, and these are available in different sizes from bullion dealers. Their price will vary by the day and will track the international price of gold and silver quoted on the world bullion markets.
However, a much more interesting way of buying gold or silver is to buy coins - as issued by various governments from as far back as the mid-18th century to the present day. Avoid buying commemorative medals issued by commercial companies (or “mints”) as their price will usually be far in excess of their gold or silver metal content. Some may only be gold or silver plated and all will have 23% VAT included - unlike gold coins which are VAT free!
Coins are issued by governments with a specific (legal tender) value and to a precise weight, quality and fineness (or percentage) of precious metal. South Africa issues the Krugerrand, America the Gold Eagle, Canada the Gold Maple Leaf and all contain 1 troy ounce of pure gold. Gold coins always maintain their value (as expressed in American dollars on international markets) regardless of government policies. Whilst the price of gold can fall as well as rise, the price of gold has risen steadily from $35 per troy ounce in 1971 to over $1,800 this year.
The British gold sovereigns are also a popular way of buying and holding gold, as well as being attractive in their own right. They were used as everyday currency in the British Empire and beyond until the outbreak of war in 1914 – whereupon they were replaced by £1 and ten shilling banknotes. Having literally “a licence to print money” the British and other governments were very happy to replace their valuable gold with printed paper or plastic ever since.
Each full sovereign contains 7.98 grams of 22 carat gold with the half sovereign containing half that amount. With 31.1 grams to one troy ounce, each full gold sovereign contains almost exactly one quarter of a troy ounce of pure (24 carat) gold. Apart from their intrinsic or bullion value, they are of interest to coin collectors, are used as jewellery, are great as gifts and for weddings and other special occasions. Half and full gold sovereigns usually sell at O’Reilly’s monthly auctions from €150/€300 respectively.