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U.S. Mint Made Gold Discs for Oil Payments to Saudi Arabia

December 4, 2012 - One of the more interesting products to reach the numismatic market in recent times, Gold Discs produced by the U.S. Mint for Aramco oil payments to Saudi Arabia following World War II will be available for the first time in twenty years.

In Saudi culture and history, gold coins are an important part of the monetary system. For many years, paper money was unacceptable in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency was formed in 1952 and immediately issued the Saudi sovereign, a cold coin equivalent in weight and value to the British sovereign, selling today for approximately $124.00.

To many collectors, however, the most interesting Saudi gold coins are the Gold Discs, as they are known. The Gold Discs were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in the 1940’s for Aramco, bearing the American Eagle on one side with the legend U.S. Mint, Philadelphia. On the reverse, three lines of text describe the fineness and weight. These issues look like coins and were used as coins, but in a strict technical sense they are not coins.

Aramco was required to pay royalties and other payments in gold to the Saudi government and could not obtain the gold at the monetary price fixed by the United States. The U.S. government began to strike these Discs, bullion in a coin form, in order to make these payments. In 1945, the Mint produced 91,210 large discs worth $20 and in 1947 it produced 121,364 smaller discs worth $5, according to The Numismatist, which broke the story in 1957.

The discs are considered desirable and interesting additions to coin and art collections as they have been made more rare following many of the discs being melted down for bullion or redeemed for the Saudi Kingdom’s gold sovereigns.

Typically, most interesting products with a limited strike are considered rare and desirable in the world of coin collecting, though the Gold Discs are possibly more so because of their status as a recognized strike of the U.S. Mint without being an official gold coin.

The bullion coins weigh 493.1 grains, slightly more than a troy ounce, and were minted in 91.66 percent gold and 8.33 percent copper.

Daily Updates Archive

Jonathan Monroe

Senior Staff Writer -

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