Bullion vs. Numismatic

A common question from novice buyers of gold and silver is, “What is the difference between a bullion and a numismatic coin?”

The fundamental difference between bullion and numismatic coins is that bullion coins are new or recently minted, whilst numismatic coins aren’t!  Well, that’s a brief summary, but there is more to it.

About Bullion, Premium coins, and Numismatics

What exactly is ‘bullion’?

The term ‘bullion’ applies to both bars and coins. Bars, or ingots, have to be 99.5% pure gold in the EU. They include the ‘good delivery’ bars used in the wholesale bullion market that can weigh up to 13kg! Bullion coins have to be at least 90% gold by law, though some have a fineness as high as .9999 gold, including some examples of the UK’s own Britannia gold coin. Gold bullion coins of this purity are exempt from VAT, by the way. Just to make things more complicated, bullion coins can be made of gold, silver, platinum and palladium, but gold and silver suit most people well enough.

Popular bullion coins include:

• Sovereigns (UK)
• Britannias (UK)
• Gold American Eagles (USA)
• Gold American Buffalo coins (USA)
• Gold Maple Leafs (Canada)
• Krugerrands (South Africa)
• Philharmonics (Austria)
• Silver American Eagles (USA)
• Silver Maple Leafs (Canada)

The case for Premium coins

What’s worth considering is that the condition and visual appeal of raw bullion coins can degrade if they’re touched or, worse still, put in circulation. That’s why Rosland specialises in graded examples of modern coins. These coins are sonically-sealed in tamper-proof containers by PCGS, an industry-leading coin grading company. They assign a rating for each coin on the 0-70 point Sheldon scale, and this is shown on coin’s container, or ‘slab’, along with a unique identifying number and barcode. With these special coins the quality of what you buy is a known quantity, fixed in time.

Why are ‘numismatic’ coins of interest?

Numismatic coins are perhaps best defined as ‘older coins in limited supply’. Unlike modern bullion coins, which can be produced in unlimited mintages, the production run of older coins is of course a known quantity and availability is limited. These coins are often aesthetically and historically appealing, and they’re commonly graded by third-party entities like PCGS and NGC to establish a ranking of quality, all of which allows a market to arise in which numismatic coins can have values much greater than their worth in gold. These coins can have considerable value, as well as giving great pleasure as objects of beauty.

Popular numismatic coins include:

• Sovereigns (UK)
• American Double Eagles (USA)
• American Liberty Head coins (USA)
• American Indian Head coins (USA)
• American Morgan Silver Dollars (USA)
• American Peace Dollars (USA)

Why do people buy gold coins, whether they’re Bullion, Premium or Numismatic?

All of these options give you a known amount of gold or silver for your money – we think they’re always going to be worth owning, and you’re able to follow their value as the price of gold and silver moves. That value can go up as well as down, but gold has been a trusted store of wealth for thousands of years, and we don’t see that changing.

Once you move from bullion towards the more special coins you’re taking the view that quality, rarity and history give your purchases a value beyond their weight in gold – that’s what attracts so many people today, and that’s why we’re here to help.