As was the case in the United States, most European countries produced gold coins for general circulation into the 20th century. This occurred at a time when the gold standard was still in existence, which has since been abandoned. When fiat currency was introduced, individuals began to take a closer look at the previously issued gold coins to identify coins for their gold value as well as their collectible value. In this article, we’re going to examine three very affordable European gold coins that would make an excellent edition to most world gold coin collections.
It may be a collector’s dream to find any remaining 15th century sovereigns (British sovereigns were first produced in 1489), but most of the British gold sovereigns that are available in the market today are from the 20th century. The image on the front of the coins has changed over the years, but some of the most popular British gold sovereigns were minted in the early 1900’s and contain images of Edward VI or George V. While the weight of these coins varies from standard weights for modern bullion coins at .2354 troy ounces, British gold sovereigns have such worldwide appeal that this slight difference should not cause potential collectors to shy away from these coins. While rarer than the previously mentioned gold sovereigns, a George III or a Queen Victoria coin from the early to late 1800’s can still be had at a reasonable premium over the melt value of the coins. On the other hand, premiums on half gold sovereigns tend to be a bit higher.
French Roosters and Angels
The French gold angels were children of the Revolution, but weren’t minted until the 1870s. They tend to have more numismatic value than French roosters, which floated in and out of European trade from 1899-1914. Roosters are an easily obtainable gold coin with a low premium, which makes them an ideal investment for budget strapped investors.
Some collectors may want the Angel for its supposed luck value – apparently Napoleon’s Waterloo misfortune leads back to his loss of an Angel coin before battle. Other reasons may include the coin’s rarity, along with the artistic and historical draw of the angel, the French constitution, and the small rooster icon on the obverse side. Much of the attraction of the actual Rooster coin comes down to Marianne on the face side, the spirit of liberty and reason, and the fighting Gallic bird on the obverse side. As is the case with the aforementioned coins, gold angels and roosters are composed of 90% pure gold, but are a bit smaller than the British gold sovereign with an actual gold weight of .1867.
Swiss Helvetias are some of the most popular old world European coins due to their design and notoriety, and are most commonly found in 20 Franc denominations. They contain the same actual gold weight as French angels and roosters at .1867 troy ounces. As a bit of history, between 1897 and 1949, the Helvetia was a reserve banking coin for most of Europe, bolstering the Swiss position that their vaults were safer and more discreet than those in London. Swiss Helvetia coins minted prior to 1933 tend to be the most popular and valuable of the Swiss coins. The low premium at which these coins are bought and sold makes them another good option for beginning investors.
In conclusion, we’ve highlighted three highly collectible and affordable European gold coins that individuals should consider adding to their world coin collection. Because they’re fractional gold coins, they are available to collectors and investors of various economic means. While none of the coins contain an actual gold weight that is commonly used for modern gold bullion coins, they are still popular among gold coin collectors, who are well versed with the gold value of these coins. In particular, European gold coins minted prior to 1933 tend to be a bit more popular and sell at a slightly higher premium than post-1933 coins. Unless you’re targeting a particular rare European gold coin or a brilliant uncirculated pre-1933 coin, you can expect to pay premiums that are on par with modern gold bullion coins, and oftentimes, even less.