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Terminology

Trade like a professional. With a little knowledge comes GREAT power:

“Semi-Numismatic”

This phrase does not actually have a meaning. It’s a fake phrase that was invented by certain unscrupulous coin dealers. They were often using this term to describe “Old World Gold” coins such as Great Britain Sovereigns and French 20 Francs gold coins. These coins are not rare nor do they have any special value. Most of these coins I would sell for somewhere between 2%-6% over their melt value.

Roman Numeral Gold, certified/graded bullion

There is at least one company, they make themselves look like a big company although I doubt this to be the case. They promote American Gold Eagles from 1986-1991. These coins were struck with their date in Roman Numerals instead of numbers (Arabic numerals). The regular one ounce gold coins from these dates are not worth more, but this company gets these coins certified and graded, they give a beautiful story about the coins, how the Eagle gold and silver coin legislation was signed by Ronald Reagan and how the Director of the Mint under Reagan has signed the labels that are sealed in the encapsulation with the coins. If I have a 1986 1 oz Gold Eagle that is in the condition they typically come (essentially perfect, they would be graded MS-69), I would sell it for the same price as a 1 oz Gold Eagle from 2015. The former coin is not special, it is not rare. If you’re trying to invest in gold and silver and a coin dealer tries to sell you on something like this at a higher premium than a random date Gold Eagle, STAY AWAY from that dealer.

Counterfeits

When I started in this business, there were essentially no counterfeits of bullion coins and bars. There were counterfeits and forgeries of numismatic coins, both completely fake coins and real coins that were altered (the counterfeiters attempt to change date and/or mint mark on the coin). However, as the price of gold remains highly elevated from where it has been historically, criminals have the incentive to produce fakes and bad dealers have the incentive to pass these along as authentic. This is the reason you want to deal with an honest, experienced dealer. In addition to visual inspection, there are several steps in verifying the authenticity of a coin. It’s nearly impossible to make a fake bullion coin or bar with the exact weight and dimensions. However, it’s completely impossible to make a fake with the correct weight and dimensions that passes an electromagnetic analysis. I visually inspect every piece I buy and sell. I also own device that tests electromagnetic properties of a given piece against known properties of various metals and finenesses; I use this device on every single bullion item I buy and sell.

When dealing in numismatics, any coin that I own that is commonly counterfeited (for example, a 1909-S VDB Lincoln Wheat cent), I will only offer for sale if it is certified and graded by a major third party grading company.

Actual Gold Weight (AGW) – the gross weight of the metal multiplied by its fineness (expressed in troy ounces)

Coin – piece of metal struck by or on behalf of a government and has a legal tender value assigned by the government

Troy Ounce (oz, ozt, toz) – the standard unit of measurement in the precious metals industry; equivalent to 31.1033 grams. This is as opposed to Avoirdupois Ounce, approximately 28.4 grams. With precious metals, when discussing “ounces,” that they are “troy ounces” is assumed.

Troy Pound (lb, troy lb) – 12 troy ounces

Spot Price – The price at which a commodity can be purchased or sold for in financial markets. Various forms of gold, silver, and platinum pieces trade at different premiums to or discounts from the spot price.

Cameo – the contrast between frosty white devices and mirrored fields on (delete the word modern) proof coins. Older proof coins with cameo finish can command a premium.

Devices – the design elements of a piece of metal… Lady Liberty and a heraldic eagle are the devices on the silver eagle coin.

Field – the background of a coin or piece of metal; typically flat, surrounding the devices.

Fineness – the percentage of a precious metal found in a piece of metal

Grade – the condition of a coin (see quick references page)

Melt (melt value) – the actual precious metal weight multiplied by the spot price of that metal. Mention of melt value does not imply that a piece would get melted. It’s simply a reference price. For example, a Krugerrand contains 1 oz actual gold weight, so it’s melt value is simply the spot price of gold. A gold Sovereign contains .2354 oz actual gold weight, so it’s melt value is .2354 x gold spot.

Planchet – a blank piece of metal formed in it’s final shape, but before being struck with a design by a mint

Premium – with bullion, the premium is the amount over the underlying metal value. Premiums are usually quoted in dollars over spot per ounce or as a percentage over the melt value. Premium can also be used to refer to the additional value a particular piece has over more common varieties of the same type of coin.

Strike – the method of taking a blank metal round and forming it into a recognizable, marked piece. Strikes for bullion metals are typically business strikes, which usually involve dies striking each side of a planchet once. Proof strikes are typically made for special lower mintage collectors coins, and they usually come with a mirrored fields; almost all modern proofs come with cameo contrast.

 

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