semi-numismatic coins

5 Popular Precious Metal Mints and Brands

Choosing the right precious metals company when you’re buying bullion bars and coins is an important and sometimes difficult task. The stakes are high. You want to ensure that the precious metals products you buy are authentic and high quality. This is your hard-earned money we’re talking about. 

You’ve probably noticed that the number of mints and brands offering precious metal bullion, whether as bars or coins, is vast and sometimes confusing. Did you know that some mints are government-operated, and some are privately owned and operated? And did you know that both types of mints are among the most popular and reliable? 

Let’s start with the basic definition of a mint, and then we’ll move on to the most popular precious metals mints or brands. 

What does mint mean when referring to coins, money, and precious metals? 

Most of us think of the refreshing green leaves used to flavor chewing gum, breath fresheners, and drinks like mojitos and mint juleps. Of course, we mean a very different kind of mint.

According to the Rosland Capital glossary, a mint is an establishment in which coins are produced. Mint is also used as a grading term.

As mentioned earlier, governments operate some mints and private companies own and operate some. Because trust and integrity are essential to creating and maintaining the value of minted precious metals products, each mint places its own mint mark on its offerings. Let’s look again at the Rosland Capital glossary, which says that a mint mark is the “mark on a coin identifying the mint at which it was struck.” This functions as both accountability and a promise of high quality for each mint’s brand reputation.

In the early days of the US Mint, mint marks were unnecessary because the first Mint in Philadelphia was the only one. Mint marks first appeared on US coins when other Mint branches opened in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans in 1838. Even after that, the Mint in Philadelphia was not required to mark its coins until 1942. 

A brief history of minted coins

Human beings have used currency since we started exchanging goods and services. Historians say that the Lydians, from a kingdom located in what is Turkey today, first minted coins around 600 B.C., using an alloy of silver and gold called electrum

This new coinage made exchange easier for merchants traveling through diverse societies in varying climates, cultures, and values, opening greater possibilities for exchange beyond the barter system. A modern comparison might be giving someone a gift card they can use anywhere and for almost anything, rather than guessing what kind of specific gift they might like, want, or need — and getting it wrong.

Early modern coin minting grew more sophisticated. Some coins were pressed by rolling blanks through a machine. Other coins were ingots, meaning molten metal was poured into molds and allowed to cool and solidify.  

Today, all kinds of coins and bars are minted for a variety of uses, from authorized circulated currency to uncirculated currency such as bullion coins to coins or tokens used for arcade games or bus fare. Mints produce coins, bars, and other products from a variety of precious metals such as silver, gold, platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular precious metals brands or mints.

5 of the Most Popular Precious Metal Companies

PAMP

PAMP logo with 1-ounce gold bar

Founded: 1977

Mint type: Private

Perhaps one of the most well-known and popular mints, PAMP is a private mint that was established in 1977, and is based in Ticino, Switzerland. PAMP operates a precious metals refinery and fabrication facility, where it produces a wide range of products, including bullion coins and bars minted from gold, silver, and Platinum Group Metals (PGM), in a variety of sizes, shapes, purities, and weights. PAMP products are accredited as Good Delivery by all major precious metals authorities, including the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). 

PAMP also supplies a diverse range of metal products to consumers, industries, governments, banks, and other institutions. The most popular product among consumers is the 1-ounce Lady Fortuna rectangular pure gold bar ingot at .9999 (four nines) gold fineness. PAMP offers bars ranging in weight from 1 ounce to 1 kilogram in precious metals including silver, gold, platinum, palladium, rhodium, and ruthenium. 


United States (US) Mint

Logo of the United States Mint

Founded: 1792

Mint type: Government

Perhaps the United States Mint is the kind of minting operation you had in mind: one operated by the government to issue the country’s coinage for circulation. The US Mint was founded in 1792, and currently has minting locations in  Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and West Point. According to the Mint, it is the “sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage and is responsible for producing circulating coinage for the nation to conduct its trade and commerce.”

In addition to authorized coinage for circulation, the US Mint produces many other coin-related products such as proof, uncirculated, and commemorative coins, as well as Congressional Gold Medals. The most popular offerings from the US Mint include silver and gold bullion coins and the American Eagle gold. Many taxpayers will be happy to learn that the Mint is self-sustaining through its programs and operates at no cost to taxpayers. Legend has it that George Washington contributed some of his own silver to get the Mint started.


Royal Canadian Mint

Logo of the Royal Canadian Mint

Founded: 1908

Mint type: Government

Founded in Ottawa, Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint produces over one billion coins annually. The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coin is the RCM’s most popular bullion offering. The Royal Canadian Mint has developed various technologies to protect the integrity of its bullion offerings. 

Bullion DNA™ Anti-Counterfeiting Technology uses a digital authentication process for Gold and Silver Maple Leaf coins. Mintshield™ Surface Protection is said to reduce white spots on Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins. 

The circulation presses in Winnipeg can produce 20 million coins each day, or 750 coins per second. In 2007, the Mint created the largest coin in the world, a 100 kilogram, 99.999% pure, $1 million gold bullion coin. 

According to the RCM, “The Mint’s high-tech plant in Winnipeg produces over 1 billion circulation coins each year. The Mint produces limited-mintage numismatic coins honouring major national achievements and themes. Crafted of gold, silver or platinum, the Mint’s collector coins are individually handled as they enter the presses. A single coin may be struck up to three times to achieve a crisp, flawless impression. Certain coins feature the Mint’s proprietary technologies: double holograms, selective plating, colouring or laser enhancement.”


Perth Mint

Logo of The Perth Mint, Australia

Founded: 1899

Mint type: Government

The Perth Mint, founded in 1899 in Perth, Australia, was originally built to refine metal from the gold rushes in Western Australia, as well as distribute sovereigns and half-sovereigns for the British Empire. 

Accredited by five of the major gold exchanges and serving customers ranging from individuals to sovereign wealth funds, the Perth Mint offers “an array of bullion and collectable legal tender coins, bars and medallions each year. We are proud to showcase Australia’s icons to the world and celebrate a variety of popular universal themes, through the original artistry of our coin designs and creative concepts.”

Some of the Perth Mint’s signature products include the Australian Kookaburra, Koala, and Kangaroo bullion coins. Some recent offerings pay homage to pop culture, such as the Star Wars™ Clone Trooper™ Helmet-Shaped 2021 2oz Silver Proof, the Jurassic World 2021 2oz T.Rex-Shaped Silver Antiqued Coin, the SUPERMAN™ Shield 2021 1oz Silver Proof Coin, and the James Bond GoldenEye 25th Anniversary 2020 1oz Silver Proof Coin. Other coins celebrate the unique Australian ecosystem and wildlife such as the Great Barrier Reef and the famous marsupials from down under: kangaroos, quokkas, and koalas. 

Check out this 2 kilo .9999 silver Australian Koala coin:


Sunshine Minting

Logo for Sunshine Minting, Inc.

Founded: 1979

Mint type: Private

Sunshine Minting, Inc., founded in Idaho in 1979, mints over 70 million ounces of bullion each year. Among them, SMI offers its version of the popular Silver Buffalo Round. In addition to striking its own collector bullion coins, Sunshine Minting serves as the primary supplier of 1-ounce silver planchets — the round metal blanks ready to be struck as coins — to the United States Mint for the .9995 American Silver Eagle bullion coin. SMI also supplies precious metal blanks to private mints. 

However, SMI sells to a varied and diverse range of customers, including governments, financial institutions, corporations, marketing companies, other businesses, and private groups. According to SMI, its “minting operation is geared to manufacture products to industry standards in brilliant uncirculated (BU), proof-like or proof quality.” 

Although it can provide platinum blanks, SMI specializes in the fine gold and fine silver varieties, ranging in size from 1 gram to large 100-ounce bars. SMI also offers services for designing and producing custom creations from any silver, gold, platinum, or non-precious metal minted product.

Finding a Precious Metals Mint to Anchor Your Asset Portfolio

How do you decide which mint and which precious metal products are right for you? That depends on your unique situation. Vital first steps include understanding your goals and doing thorough research. You may end up with more questions than answers at first. But we’re here to help you make an informed decision.

Get more information from the precious metals representatives at Rosland Capital.

What’s the Difference Between Bullion and Numismatic Coins?

Is there a difference between bullion coins and numismatic coins? Yes, and when you’re in the market for coins, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and why you’re looking for it. Bullion coins and numismatic coins are valued differently and for different reasons. Let’s explore the differences and the similarities, and what that may mean for you.

What is bullion?

What does the word “bullion” make you think of? Do you imagine the huge rectangular gold bullion bars stacked like bricks in a vault at Fort Knox? You’re not wrong. But that’s only part of the picture. Bullion coins are minted using those same highly refined precious metals such as silver, gold, platinum, and palladium. 

As Rosland Capital’s Precious Metals & Coins Glossary (by kind permission of Lorenz Books, publishers of one of our favorite books, The World Encyclopedia of Coins, written by Dr. James Mackay) succinctly states: “Bullion is precious metal whose value is reckoned solely by its weight and fineness.”

Regardless of the shape or size, bullion is all about the purity of the metal itself. Precious metal purity is graded according to millesimal fineness, or parts per thousand, and the standard varies by metal. For example, an assayer certifies the grade of fine silver only for silver bullion with a millesimal fineness of 999, or 999 parts per thousand. This translates to 99.9% pure silver. The same purity standard holds for gold bullion. This level of purity is called 24-karat gold, though that term is most commonly used with jewelry.

According to London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) purity standards for Good Delivery, platinum and palladium bullion must meet the minimum requirement of 99.95% pure platinum or palladium. Although we know that gold is mined along with other precious metals such as platinum to be used in jewelry, electronics, and sustainable energy industries, coins remain one of the most popular forms and uses. All these precious metals are available as bullion coins. Which brings us to our main question.

What’s the difference between bullion coins, numismatic coins, and semi-numismatic coins?

What are bullion coins?

Again, to quote the Glossary, a bullion coin is a coin struck in precious metal, now usually with an inscription giving its weight and fineness, whose value fluctuates according to the market price of the metal.

Some of the most popular bullion coins include ones minted in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Austria, and the United Kingdom:

It is worth noting that different bullion coins can have different metal content. For example, the American Buffalo is 99.99 fine gold, while the American Eagle is 91.67% pure gold. The Eagle still contains 1 Troy oz of gold, because it weighs 33.931 grams, or around 1.09 Troy ounces.

As long as a bullion coin’s gold content and weight are known, and the issuing authority—in this case the US Mint—is trusted, these variances are of no import.

Although bullion coins are not now meant for use as currency, they are issued by a sovereign nation, have a legal tender value and could theoretically be used for purchases. The fact that the legal tender value is a small fraction of the metal content’s worth discourages that sort of activity.

You may also come across “rounds” that have the same metal content as a bullion coin of the same weight, but these are not legal tender coins whose production is authorized by a sovereign government.

While bullion coins can be seen to have a functional, transactional purpose, they are not immune to the tides of fashion. Before the US Buffalo coin was introduced, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, promoted as ’24-karat’, was a particularly popular purchase. The arrival of the Buffalo, with its nostalgic use of the Buffalo Nickel design, and its homage to the incuse lettering of the $2.5 and $5 Indian Head coins, created a new favorite.

What are numismatic coins?

What does numismatic mean? 

Let’s check with our Glossary again. It says: “Numismatics (from Latin numisma, coin) is the study and collection of paper money, coins and medals.”

According to the American Numismatic Association (ANA), numismatists study money in any of its forms, often focusing on certain areas of numismatics, such as coins, tokens, or paper currency. For our purposes here, numismatics relates to coins. This often involves an interest in coins as currency, as part of human histories, cultures, and societies. 

Numismatic coins are essentially coins that are no longer in production, are in limited supply and, in the case of US coins, were minted before 1933. They were usually minted as bullion for use as currency and as a medium of exchange. They only acquired their ‘numismatic’ status later, once they became part of history.

One example would be the beautiful $2.5 and $5 Indian Head coins first issued in 1908. These have a recessed, or “incuse” design, and were initially not popular—people thought germs might hide in the crevices—but now they are beloved collectors’ items.

Coin buyers also seek coins minted up to present day, especially limited or special editions, sets such as the U.S. quarters featuring the fifty states, and the now-rare first euros released by each state that joined the European Union prior to standardizing the currency across nations. The scarcity of coins stamped with errors will always be a source of attraction and fascination for numismatists.

That’s not to say that value is unimportant. On the contrary, the value of numismatic and semi-numismatic coins can sometimes greatly exceed that of bullion coins with the same metal content. One difference between bullion coins and numismatic coins is what gives each its value. As we’ve seen, bullion coins are valued for their precious metal content and weight, whereas numismatic coin values also derive from factors such as rarity, historical context and importance, condition, and current demand for a particular coin.

The most valuable numismatic and semi-numismatic coins are worth far more than the spot price for their inherent metal value. One of the most famous numismatic coins is the United States $20 double eagle gold coin. This U.S. gold coin was the result of a collaboration between President Theodore Roosevelt and American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. While visiting the Smithsonian and seeing the ancient Greek coins bearing the image of Alexander the Great, Roosevelt had the idea to reinvent American coinage, introducing a higher caliber of artistic quality. Mission accomplished.

What are semi-numismatic coins?

While “numismatic coins” can be defined as older coins that are no longer made, semi-numismatic coins can still be in production. Along with “First Strikes”, semi-numismatic coins can include proof coins, which are specially minted coins produced in limited runs by some of the most popular mints and precious metals brands. These coins are usually double or triple struck and placed into protective casings without being touched by human hands or placed into circulation, leaving them in “mint condition” without scratch or blemish. 

Proof coins will have a highly polished mirror background, with their design rendered in frosted finishes, giving a cameo-like appearance – they are visibly different and often much more appealing than their mass-produced bullion cousins.

These uncirculated, collectible coins are often of the same metal content as bullion coins while also being relatively rare and unusual, and they draw value from both of these aspects. 

For example, the American Eagle Gold Proof, produced in limited quantities by the US Mint, is a popular item with coin enthusiasts, while the “Uncirculated” version of the same coin is minted in much larger quantities, and would be described as a bullion coin.

In general, semi-numismatic coins can add unexpected character and value to your portfolio. They are also available in a greater variety of sizes compared to coins designed for circulation.

Is it better to buy bullion coins or numismatic coins?

There’s no one answer to that question—it depends on your goals. Whatever you choose, it often makes sense to diversify your holdings and help solidify your portfolio. If you’re thinking about buying precious metals, whether gold, silver, or others contact our precious metals specialists at Rosland Capital.