You may have heard the term “mint bullion” before, and wondered how it differed from other bullion. Here’s a straightforward explanation, with some interesting trivia thrown in.
The round stuff
Generally speaking, “mint bullion” is any bullion struck and issued by a mint. Usually, this is a government mint of some sort — for example, the U.S. Mint, here in the United States — but this isn’t always the case. There are private businesses that call themselves mints that also produce precious metal bullion.
Strictly speaking, a mint is a facility that mints coins for currency. But let’s allow the private mints their dignity, okay?
Moving right along: mints almost invariably strike their bullion in the form of bullion coins, or rounds. They can be as light as a gram (as with various private mint miniatures) or as heavy as a kilogram (the Australian Mint’s “Kangaroo”), so they’re variable enough to meet just about anyone’s investment needs.
American bullion coins, available in tenth-ounce, quarter-ounce, half-ounce, and one ounce weights, are popular all over the world. In 2009, for example, the U.S. Mint sold 1,805,500 Gold Eagles alone, amounting to 1,435,000 ounces of gold.
Bars and ingots, as opposed to bullion mint, mostly originate from refineries, private industry, and often from the mines themselves (the metal is easier to transport that way).
So, are old gold and silver coins mint bullion?
In a sense, they are. Ultimately, it was bullion — lumps of refined and assayed precious metals — that evolved into coins thousands of years ago. Ironically, in recent decades, we’ve begun to mint bullion as coins again. The South Africans started the practice in 1967 with their famous Krugerrands.
And yes, if you like, you can collect circulated coins as bullion. In fact, your Humble Writer has collected silver that way himself. However, old silver coins tend to be quite common and nothing special; you can still sometimes find them in your pocket change.
No one has ever minted circulating platinum coins, given metal’s great value and rarity. Antique gold coins are fairly common, but they’re impractical for the investor, since they have a collectible value that adds a substantial premium over their gold value.
If you’re interested in investing in minted coin bullion, we recommend that you stick to official bullion coins.
What makes coin bullion better than bar bullion?
Nothing, really. Both formats have their advantages — and they’re all made of the same stuff anyway, though the purity may differ. But we have our reasons for preferring bullion in the round.
Bar bullion is a bit less expensive when purchased in bulk, but not everyone can buy (and sell) that much gold at a time. And in general, we feel it’s a good idea to stay with bullion minted by the U.S. Mint, at least when you’re new to the game.
That’s because the Federal government backs these coins with a guarantee as to their weight, size, and purity. The American Eagle mint bullion coins in gold, silver and platinum are especially fine choices.
Now, if you want to make sure you don’t waste a lot of money when you invest in mint bullion or other types of gold and silver, be sure to subscribe to my Gold Minute newsletter and Mini-Course — it’s free.
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