Gold Coins From Europe

Europe mapFrom the advent of the Euro on January 1999, the history of European coins travels back 2,700 years to the Greek island of Aegina. This city-state was the first to have a mint and to issue coins on the Continent. Later, the Romans advanced minting technology through casting in clay moulds with distinctive markings, while establishing mints throughout the Empire. By the late 1700s, steam power came to bear on screw presses in France and Germany, giving the capacity to strike coins at the rate of just over one per second. Efforts to counteract counterfeiting included the introduction of the “collar” to ensure roundness, as well as raised rims and sunken letters. Then came electricity and hydraulics, and an unending wave of technological advances that go into the processes that fashion coins today, centuries after the Greek craftsman at work with his hammer and anvil.

Gold and European History

The development of gold coins went hand-in-hand with the emergence of modern Europe, not to mention a generous supply from Hungarian gold mines. The Italian cities of Florence and Venice struck, respectively, gold florins and ducats for use in international trade as far back as the 1200s. Louis IX of France introduced the ecu in 1266, while England’s Edward III started the first regular gold coinage in 1344. The advantage of gold was that coins carried their value within their content. The disadvantage was manipulation, such as “clipping” the coins and melting down the precious metal. The coin evolved when it became a unit of value, not weight.

Spain, a world power on the might of its armada, introduced the gold escudo in the mid-1500s, and its 2-escudo coin, the doubloon. By the 1700s, gold ducats were in common circulation throughout European nations. Notably, that ended in France with the 1792 Revolution, the issue of francs resuming only after the ascension to power of Napoleon Bonaparte. Thus began what’s been called the “golden era” of gold coins. Great Britain introduced its enduring gold sovereign in 1817 and established the gold standard of value. That lasted nearly 100 years … until the world went to war in Europe, governments started storing their gold and stopped minting gold coins for circulation, a trend that spread around the world by 1933.

Notable Coins from Europe

Gold Vienna Philharmonic

Austrian gold coin reverse

With their age-old craftsmanship and designs that express the rich history of this cradle of modern Western civilization, the most popular European gold bullion coins for investors is the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the world’s best sellers since its arrival in 1989, and the very best seller in four of those years.

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The gold Britannia

The Royal Mint strikes its Gold Britannia to bullion standard, in 24-carat gold (.9999 fineness). Previous to 2013, the coin was of 22-carat (.917 fineness) gold with the remaining .093% made up of copper (until 1989) and then silver.

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The Sovereign

The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom that has retained its form for a remarkable 200 years, under the specifications of the Coin Act of 1816.

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