Neil S Berman - Expert Numismatist & Gold Coin Dealer
Gold Coins Trade through History
Gold coins have been minted and used in commerce for at least 2700 years. Since the invention of the gold coin for use in trade, in any given point in time there has usually been one gold coin that was more popular, more desired and more acceptable for trade by a majority of the world’s merchant traders, citizens and kings.
At the peak of each of the major gold coins historical desirability, each of these coins had the same four common characteristics. They are all consistently of the same quality of manufacture enough to be easily recognizable on sight by anyone of the period that used them. They are all consistently the same weight and reliably the same fine purity of gold. And they were all made in sufficient numbers that there were plenty of them to go around at the time by the world traders that used them commercially.
Each gold coin type goes through the same cycles of desirability. First it is made, then accepted by the market, then distributed and used in commerce, then favored by the market, and then eventually falls out of favor of the market for one of a few reasons.
Usually, the coin is replaced by another over a period of time, as one coin is, for example, slowly debased, that is the gold content is lowered without an equal lowering of the coins face value. Sometimes the maker is conquered or falls out of economic power and ceases production. Sometimes it is as simple as a better made or more available gold coin is manufactured by someone elsewhere. As more desirable coins circulated, the older, less desirable or obsolete gold coin types were called in and melted, which accounts for their current relative scarcity considering their large original mintages.
The last of the great gold world trade coins was the US Double Eagle. All the gold coins made world wide after the Double Eagle were made either to circumvent some law against owning gold bullion privately by dating them prior to when they were made, called restrikes, or to facilitate the ownership of small quantities of gold by the general population in small easy to recognize bullion coins of known weight, purity and value.
The major world gold trade coins have been underlined.