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Golden Euro Coins Remain a Viable Bullion Option

When the European Union (EU) began minting a common European coin in 1999, the original designs called for circulating coins from each member nation that shared a common obverse and national reverse designs, up to €2. However, the very first coins to carry the Euro denomination was fired up for the gold-hungry public still buying gold bullion in large quantities. In short, there has been a large market for European gold, especially as European banks have become shied away from the more traditional banks and stocks.

A fun way for collectors to invest in gold bullion, European gold coins have the advantage of being very available and exchangeable while also featuring a large number of countries, designs and denominations to choose from. They are especially popular among type collectors.

The smallest gold coins bearing a Euro designation are the €20 coins issued by similarly tiny nations such as The Vatican, San Marino and Italy. All these coins, issued in the early 'aughts, were proof sets only and generally of interest as numismatic items for collecting.

The tiny island of Malta has recently issued another small gold Euro coins, with €50 proof, 91.6% pure (or 22-karat) bullion coins that feature the Auberge de Castille on the reverse side. They weigh just 6.5g (just short of a quarter-ounce) and were issued first in 2008 to great success. Issued as a collectors proof item, the Maltese €50 is less a strict gold bullion investment as it is an affordable numismatic coin in gold.

Much more popular among those who purchase bullion bars and coins for investment's sake are the more recent issuances of both €100 and €200 coins. These coins, which are much more often found as either 22-karat or 99.99% pure gold and produced by larger nations in larger quantities. Weighing ½-ounce and 1-ounce respectively, they sell at a small percentage among the spot price of gold. As such prices are continually adjusted.

Buying gold bullion from Europe is usually accomplished through an established coin dealer in the US or through European banks that are required to treat gold Euro deposits as real currency. Each country that mints a gold coin is allowed to make whatever type of coin they wish. As such, many of these gold Euro coin designs change every year or so and are commemorative in nature.

Some major players include France and Germany who each have minted a significant number of Euro-coins since the currency transformation was official and final in mid-2002. England, though still using the pound, has also issued gold Euro coins, as have other member states in the 'aughts.

Perhaps one of the most popular investment-grade gold bullion coin was the very first one to be issued in Euros, the Austrian Philharmonic coin valued at €100 featured 99.99% pure gold and has been issued each year since 1999.

While one of the advantages for those who buy gold bullion coins is that each coin has an inherent value that is separate from the face value, Euro-type coins can also make for very collectible type coin sets. For those who are concerned about supply concerns in the US, buying gold bullion from Europe can be one of the only places to reliably obtain guilt-free gold outside the Americas and Oceania.

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Martha Cooke

April 12, 2009

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