Many civilizations have perceived gold as a sound source of value. People have used gold coins as a monetary material for millennia. Gold coins appeared in Athens around 440 BC but emerged in Asia even earlier. The first US gold coins were authorized with the establishment of the United States Mint under the Coinage Act of 1792. The act sanctioned the production of Gold Eagles, Gold Half and Gold Quarter Eagles. In addition the act provided for the manufacture of copper and silver coins. At present, the US produces three types of gold coins: bullion, collectible, and commemorative coins. The bullion coins represent a form of investment rather than means for the daily commerce. On the other hand, collectible coins, such as proof coins, are sold at a premium price to the collectors. They are usually minted with frosty, mirror-like, or shiny images. The commemorative coins are produced to honor a legendary person or to commemorate certain events or issues. These coins have specific designs which reflect the particular occasion for their issue. Some countries mint commemorative coins for regular circulation. However, they usually serve as collectible items.
In addition, the US Mint releases proof coins, reverse proof coins, and un-circulated coins. The proof coins represent the early samples of a coin edition which have served to check the coin die in the past. Today, they are often issued as collectors` items. The reverse proof coins are manufactured in the same manner as the proof coins. However, the fields, or the empty spaces, around the image are frosty while the image itself is mirror-like. Un-circulated coins are released but not intended for regular circulation. They may be bullion and commemorative coins, proof sets, or special coin sets.
The first gold coin with a legal tender status was the South African Krugerrand. The 1967 edition of the coin contained one ounce of gold. The Krugerrand immediately stirred enormous interest among the bullion investors. The apparent success of the South African coin led to the worldwide production of gold bullion coins. The Royal Canadian Mint was the next to create its gold coins in 1979. The Gold Maple Leaf became famous for its purity of .999 to .99999. Austria, China, and Australia proceeded to establish their editions of the Austrian Philharmonic, the Gold Panda, and the Gold Kangaroo, respectively. The Gold Philharmonic is known as one of the best selling and most refine brands of gold coins. Furthermore, they were the first gold coins to be issued in the EU currency. The Gold Panda coins and the Gold Kangaroo come in various designs that change every year. The Chinese produce is increasingly used in the manufacture of jewelry.
Gold coins represent a reliable form of investment. States that issue gold coins guarantee their quality. Moreover, the gold used for their coinage is of extremely high purity. The real value of the gold coins is determined by the quantity of gold or the changes in the value of gold. Most coins issued after 1800 come in limited editions of maximum 100.000 gold coins. Sometimes, the series contain just 10.000 pieces. Another advantage is that the design of some coins changes each year. Finally, the gold coins authenticity is guaranteed by a certificate.