According to the National Mining Association, gold was first excavated in what is now Eastern Europe around 4000 BC, and it became an international form of currency in Egypt in about 1500 BC. Gold coins appeared around the same time, when the shekel, which originally contained 11.3 grams of gold, circulated widely throughout the Middle East. Within another 500 years, square gold coins were introduced in China, while ancient Greek gold coins appeared in 4th and 3rd centuries BC as staters, tetradrachms, octodrachms, and pentadrachms. Ancient Roman gold coins of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC included the stater, aureus, and binio.

More recently, countries around the world have minted gold coins as currency, usually for larger transactions, although numerous small-denomination coins with trace amounts of gold in them have also been struck. One of the most famous gold coins was the Spanish reale, which was so ubiquitous in early 19th-century America that it was considered legal tender. In the 1850s, the U.S. Mint began producing its own gold coins, some made from ore and nuggets mined during the California Gold Rush of 1949. The largest U.S. gold coins, the $20 double eagles, contained just under a troy ounce of gold by weight. Even heavier were the 5-pound Egyptian coins minted between 1861 and 1957 and the 5-pound British coins struck from 1838 to 1968, both of which had more than an ounce of gold in them.

In the United States, bullion coins have been popular since 1986, when the first American Eagle coins minted under the terms of the Bullion Coin Act of 1985 were released. These coins were minted at the 22-karat standard (.9167 gold) and produced entirely from gold mined in the United States. While American Eagles have a face value, their actual cost depends on their weight (1/10-ounce coins have a face value of $5; 1/4-ounce coins are marked as being worth $10;1/2-ounce coins have a $25 face value; and 1-ounce coins are ostensibly worth $50).

In 2006, the U.S. Mint released its first 24-karat (.9999 gold) gold bullion coin, the American Buffalo, a 1-ounce gold coin created to compete with other 24-karat coins such as the Canadian Maple Leaf. Fractional versions of the American Buffalo were minted in 2008, in the same denominations and weights as American Eagles.

Gold bullion bars are designed for those who want to collect gold in even smaller weights (some as light as 1 gram) than bullion coins. Some of the most popular types of gold bars are Credit Suisse and PAMP, both produced in Switzerland. For heavier bars weighing between 350 and 430 fine troy ounces, everything from their shape (wider on their top surface than their base) to the information stamped into them is carefully regulated. For example, unlike bullion coins, whose weight is guaranteed by the government that issues them, the weight of a heavy gold bar is generally not stamped into the top surface of the bar since it is weighed again before being sold.

Of course you can also collect (or even stockpile) gold in its pure, natural state as gold nuggets, which are usually weathered and pitted due to the erosion of the materials the gold had been in contact with when the nuggets formed. While most gold nuggets on the market are no bigger than your fingernail, some notable nuggets found in Australia have weighed as much as 150 pounds.

As with gold coins, whose numismatic value is often negligible compared to the market value of the metal, gold jewelry and gold wristwatches are often bought and sold just because they are made of gold. This is especially true of off-brand wristwatches and pieces of jewelry whose design dictates a lot of gold, such as a heavy, multichain necklaces or a set of thick, solid-gold bangles.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

18ct/ 18k Gold 1.58ct Diamond Bracelet, 750Antique Solid Gold & Enamel Verge Fusee Pocket Watch / RunsItalian Diamond South Sea Pearl 18k Gold Link Chain Necklace 95.1 Grams NrVtg Brutalist 14k Solid Yellow Gold Natural Salmon Deep Red Coral Rings Sz 5.518ct/ 18k Gold 60 Point Princess Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring, 750**estate 18k Yellow Gold Jade Dangle Drop Earrings 7mm X 1.5" 6.5 Grams 18ct/ 18k Gold 36 Point Diamond & Large Genuine Pearl Heavy Pendant Necklace,750Longines Gold Minute Repeater Moonphase Chronograph Pocket Watch, 23j - Rf2496218ct/18k Gold 1ct Diamond & Pearl Victorian Art Nouveau Heavy Brooch/pendant,750Fine Heavy 9ct/9k/9carat/375 Gold Enamel Russian Egg ? Charm Bracelet18ct/18k Gold 2.12ct Diamond Large & Heavy Art Deco Design Cluster Ring, 75018ct/18k Gold Diamond Victorian Style Heavy Cluster Ring, 750Swiss Quarter Repeater Chronograph Pocket Watch In 18k Gold Hunter - Rf2413018ct/ 18k Gold Diamond & Baroque Pearl Art Deco Drop Earrings, 75018ct/ 18k Gold & Platinum 3/4ct Diamond & Opal Five Stone Art Deco Ring, 750Hgr 1900 $10,000 Gold Certificate ((x-rare)) Appears Gem UncirculatedSwiss Quarter Repeater Pocket Watch, 52mm, 16 Jewels, 14k Rose Gold - Rf 24484Tiffany & European Watch Co Ewc Ultrathin 18k Solid Gold Pocket Watch 45.5mmEstate Italian 18k Yellow Gold Link Bracelet 34.4 Grams NrEstate 3.20ct Diamond 18k Gold Platinum Dangle Drop Earrings 18.1 Grams Nr18ct/18k Gold Diamond & 2.5ct Blue Zircon Art Deco Design Cluster Ring, 750Antique Vintage Victorian 18k Gold Platinum 3.12 Ct Diamond Engagement Ring S 8International Watch Co Iwc 18k 2-tone Solid Gold Flip Stand Pocket WatchAntique 1915 Buick 14k Solid Gold Elgin Pocket Watch 12 Size Gents18ct/ 18k Gold 1ct Diamond Large & Heavy Designer Hoop Earrings, Boxed, 750Rare A Lange & Sohne Art Deco Gold 14k Hunter Pocketwatch !!18ct/ 18k Gold Exceptional 2ct Diamond Large & Heavy Ring, 750Patek Philippe & Co Geneva Solid 14k Gold Chronometer - 1901Fine Extremely Heavy 18ct 2 Coloured Gold Designer 6ct Sapphire Ring 18k 750Genuine Patek Philippe Antique 18k Gold Mens Open Face Pocket Watch18ct/18k Gold 1/2ct Diamond Heart Heavy Designer Pendant On Chain, Leo Pizzo,75014k Diamond Tennis Bracelet Vintage Natural Solid Gold Sparkling 4.20 Carats! Antique 14k Gold Chinese Market Vrard Tientsin - Detent Chronometer Pocket WatchA Lange, Deutsche Uhrenfabrikation Pocket Watch, 14k Rose Gold - Rf25777Aureo Aureus Antonino Pio, Au-7,2g/18,5mm. Roman Gold CoinAntique 18k Gold & Diamonds Pocket Watch With Lecoultre Movement1932 $10 Pcgs Ms 63 Gold Indian Princess Eagle, Uncirculated Ten Dollar CoinPatek Philippe & Co Geneva Solid 14k Gold 21 Jewels Chronometer - 1889Estate 1.10ct Octagone Cut Diamond 18k Gold Engagement Ring 7.5 Grams NrEstate Diamond 16.14ct Rubellite 18k Yellow Gold Pendant Necklace 84.0 Grams Nr$9500 Museum 18th C. Georgian Memento Mori Skull&snake 18k Gold&diamonds RingVacheron & Constantin 18k Yellow Gold Ultra Slim Hunter Pocketwatch !!Russian Empire 1830 Nicholas I 5 Roubles ! Rare Original Gold Coin !Rare Extremely Large 14k Green Gold Gruen Men's Wrist Watch Circa 1920-30sUncommon 14k Gold Bulova Space View Accutron Men's Wrist Watch With Fancy LugsAustralian Natural Gold Nugget Victorian 140.9 GramsEstate Diamond 5.45ct Green Emerald 18k Yellow Gold Ring 8.1 Grams NrGreat Suisse Ancient Black Blue Enamel Pocket Watch 18k Solid Gold, Working 187215 Rupees Gold British India 1918 Russian Empire 1876 Alexander Ii 3 Roubles ! Very Rare Original Gold Coin !**estate 18k Yellow Gold Diamond Insert Ring 1/3ct Emerald Sapphire Ruby Beautiful Victorian 14k Solid Gold Lorgnette Pendant 23.2 GramsFine Vintage 18ct / 18k 750 Gold Cutured Pearl Earrings Gold Aureus Galeria Valeria Wife Of Galerius Maximianus Siscia 308–309 (1443-)The Most Impressive Victorian Memento Mori Skulls 18k Gold,diamonds&jade RingModern 18k Yellow Gold Screw Head Bangle Bracelet 13.0 Grams Nr18k Gold Extra Large Blackamoor Carved African Queen Retro Vintage PendantAmazing Xf-au In Gold Coin Technicolor 1905 $20 Certificate 50 100 Fr1180 2899lv18ct/ 18k Solid Gold Diamond Very Heavy Bangle, 750Fine 1920s Antique 18k Gold "in Faith" Men's Wedding Band Ring 8.2g Size 7