Of 4 transition metals only gold and silver are looked upon as precious metals. As gold and silver are precious metals and rarely found, they come with high economic value. Copper is a different story altogether. Unlike copper, the two precious metals can be produced without having to undergo the process of metallurgy extraction. They have many positive characteristics that allow them to be made into coins:
• They’re very ductile and softer compared to other metals.
• They don’t melt easily.
• They’re not very reactive, unlike some other materials.
• They shine beautifully.
• Gold and silver are precious metals and they aren’t radioactive.
As gold and silver are soft and ductile, they’re more vulnerable to damage especially when they’re made into coins that are meant for circulation. It’s a must for coins meant for circulation to be unaffected by rigorous handling and the severe effects of wear and tear. In this case, gold and silver need to be alloyed, which means other metals are added to them to make them more durable and texturally harder.
For numismatic collection, gold and silver are used wholly in the production of coins. For instance, the 22-carat gold coin is comprised of ninety-two percent of gold, and the remaining percentage is covered by silver and copper. For U.S. circulated coins before 1933, these were comprised of ninety percent of gold, and the remaining percentage was covered by copper and silver. The Gold Maple Leaf of Canada is even purer – it contains 99.99% of pure gold. The same goes for 4 gold bullion coinage mentioned below:
- Britannia, United Kingdom (face valued at 100 Pounds).
- Gold Panda, China (face value from 25 to 500 Yuan).
- Helvetia Head, Switzerland (face value from 10 to 100 Swiss Francs).
- Vienna Philharmonic, Austria (face value from 10 to 100 Euros).
When looking at gold and silver, when it comes to silver, coins are usually minted with ninety percent silver and ten percent copper. A good example can be seen from the U.S. silver minted coins produced before 1965. Other examples may include the Silver Libertad, Mexico, and Silver Eagle, United States. The former was produced in 1986 while the latter, 1982. Both were comprised of 99.9% silver with only 0.1% copper.
Other examples are such as the Silver Kookaburra, Australia, Silver Panda, China, and George the Victorious, Russia. When looking at gold and silver, one of the risks that need to be understood is the possibility of the coin being valued for the coin itself and not for the metal’s original value.
The use of gold and silver to make coins can be risky especially when it involves the production of low-valued coins. Due to this reason, people can take advantage of the precious metals by melting them down to get their original face value.
In the past, the U.S. and British pennies used to contain very high amounts of copper but now they’re no longer valued more than the metal’s face value. An additional note to ponder – gold and silver tend to share the same code of currency which is ISO 4217.