Advice on Selling and Buying Scrap Gold

Gold Coins

Welcome to everything you ever wanted to know about gold coins but were afraid to ask.

On this page I’m going to tell you all about types of gold coin specifications, sizes and weights, why gold coins are worth more than other coins, purity, the history of gold coins, how to tell if a gold coin is real or fake, and where are the best places to buy or sell gold coins.

This however only relates to modern (from c.1800) gold coins.

Gold has been used to make currency for thousands of years, and there are coins and denominations from ancient civilisations that don’t exist any more.

These are specialist fields requiring expert knowledge, and that’s not me.

Some of those coins can be worth a kings ransom, but to know if an ancient coin is genuine or not requires all kinds of tests, knowledge and nuances that would require an encyclopaedia, it’s not something that can be answered on a page on a website.

If you have an ancient or antique gold coin then please make sure you seek out professional advice by contacting as many specialist dealers and auctioneers as you can, to get as many opinions as possible.

Don’t (for heavens sake) take it to your local pawn broker and ask them!

Types Of Gold Coin

Modern gold coins tend to be based on weight by ounce and fractions of ounces, since gold is priced in ounces, and it’s much easier to work out values of gold coins if weights are standardised.

So whether you’re looking at a Krugerrand or a Buffalo or an Eagle or a Maple, it will generally be in fractions of ounces, although there are some exceptions, which we’ll come onto later.

Most gold coins are classed as “fine gold” or bullion coins, but this can be a little misleading.

While most people think of gold coins as being “pure gold” (or 24 carat, or 99.99% gold content), a lot of them are in fact 22 carat (or 91.667% gold content), meaning they have base metals added to them to make the metal tougher and more hard wearing.

So for example an American Buffalo is a 24ct 0.9999 purity “solid gold” coin, and a 1oz Buffalo will weigh 1oz.

On the other hand a Krugerrand is 22ct 0.91667 purity, and while it does indeed contain 1oz of gold like the Buffalo, it also contains some base metal, meaning the total weight is 1.09oz.

Although the “fineness” is different, each contains the same amount of gold.

Gold Coin Dimensions & Weights

Because of the differences in fineness, the weights and dimensions of the different types of gold coin (diameters and thickness) will vary, and this can help tremendously in working out if a gold coin is genuine or not.

The gold coin weights chart below gives the weights and dimensions for the most common gold coins, including any changes that have happened over the years. The gold coin weights are in grams.

Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Thickness (mm)Fineness
1987-2012Britannia 1oz34.05032.692.79.9167
1987-2012Britannia Half Ounce 17.0527.002.08.9167
1987-2012Britannia Quarter Ounce 7.77522.001.63.9167
1987-2012Britannia Tenth Ounce 3.110316.50
1.17.9167
2013+Britannia 5oz 156.29550.00.9999
2013+Britannia 1oz31.1132.69.9999
2013+Britannia Half Ounce 15.6027.9999
2013+Britannia Quarter Ounce 7.8622.9999
2013+Britannia Tenth Ounce 3.1316.50.9999
2013+Britannia Twentieth Ounce 1.5812.9999
1982+Maple Leaf 1oz 31.104302.80.9999
1982+Maple Half Ounce 15.55252.23.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Quarter Ounce 7.7757201.7.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Tenth Ounce 3.11161.22.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Twentieth Ounce 1.55514.150.92.9999
1982-2015Panda 1oz31.10332.052.70.9999
1982-2015Panda Half Ounce15.5515271.85.9999
1982-2015Panda Quarter Ounce7.775821.951.53.9999
1982-2015Panda Tenth Ounce3.110317.951.05.9999
1982-2015Panda Twentieth Ounce1.555213.920.83.9999
2016+Panda 30 grams30322.70.9999
2016+Panda 15 grams15271.85.9999
2016+Panda 8 grams8221.53.9999
2016+Panda 3 grams3181.05.9999
2016+Panda 1 gram1100.83.9999
2006+Buffalo 1oz31.10832.72.95.9999
2006+Buffalo Half Ounce15.552272.24.9999
2006+Buffalo Quarter Ounce7.776221.83.9999
2006+Buffalo Tenth Ounce3.1116.501.19.9999
1820+Double Sovereign15.97628.402.0.9167
1817+Full Sovereign7.98805221.52.9167
1817+Half Sovereign3.9919.300.99.9167
1967+Krugerrand 1oz33.9332.772.75.9167
1967+Krugerrand Half Ounce16.9627.072.24.9167
1967+Krugerrand Quarter Ounce8.4822.061.52.9167
1967+Krugerrand Tenth Ounce3.41216.551.19.9167
1986+American Eagle 1oz33.93132.72.87.9167
1986+American Eagle Half Ounce16.966272.15.9167
1986+American Eagle Quarter Ounce7.775221.78.9167
1986+American Eagle Tenth Ounce3.3916.51.26.9167

Britannia Gold Coins

The Britannia is regarded as a 24ct “pure gold coin” but it’s important to recognise that from 1987 (when the coin was first struck) until 2012 it was in fact a 22ct (91.667%) pure gold coin.

This means that the weights and dimensions have changed as in the table below.

The Britannia is available in the following sizes:

  • 5oz Britannia
  • 1oz Britannia
  • Half Ounce Britannia
  • Quarter Ounce Britannia
  • One Tenth Ounce Britannia
  • One Twentieth Ounce Britannia

 

Recognising the weights, dimensions, and specifications is essential for identifying genuine gold coins, see later on this page.

[Learn more about the gold Britannia coin].

Britannia Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1987-2012Britannia 1oz34.05032.69.9167
1987-2012Britannia Half Ounce 17.0527.00.9167
1987-2012Britannia Quarter Ounce 7.77522.00.9167
1987-2012Britannia Tenth Ounce 3.110316.50
.9167
2013+Britannia 5oz 156.29550.9999
2013+Britannia 1oz31.1132.69.9999
2013+Britannia Half Ounce 15.6027.9999
2013+Britannia Quarter Ounce 7.8622.9999
2013+Britannia Tenth Ounce 3.1316.50.9999
2013+Britannia Twentieth Ounce 1.5812.9999

Gold Maple Leaf Coins

The Gold Maple is a Canadian gold coin that was produced in various denominations and fractions of 1oz from 1979.

[Learn more about the gold Maple coin].

Between 1979 and 1982 the maple had a fineness of 0.999 and since then has a fineness of .9999, making later versions a pure gold coin.

While we are only looking at standard versions and weights of the coin, it is interesting to note that in 2007 the Royal Canadian Mint produced six $1 Million (face value) Maple coins (which actually contained $3.5 million of gold).

They had dimensions of 50cm by 3cm with a purity of 99.999% and weighed 100kg, one of which was stolen in Berlin and never recovered.

The Maple is available in the following sizes:

  • 1oz Maple Leaf
  • Half Ounce Maple Leaf
  • Quarter Ounce Maple Leaf
  • One Tenth Ounce Maple Leaf
  • One Twentieth Ounce Maple Leaf

 

Maple Leaf Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1982+Maple Leaf 1oz 31.10430.9999
1982+Maple Half Ounce 15.5525.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Quarter Ounce 7.775720.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Tenth Ounce 3.1116.9999
1982+Maple Leaf Twentieth Ounce 1.55514.15.9999

Panda Gold Coins

The Gold Panda is a Chinese coin that was first produced in 1982.

In 2001 the nominal face value of the coin (e.g. the value in Yuan) changed, but the weights and content of gold remained the same. [Learn more about the gold Panda].

In 2016 the coin was changed to be weighed in grams rather than ounces, meaning less gold content per each of the face value of coin (see table below).

The Panda is available in the following sizes (pre 2016):

  • 1oz Panda
  • Half Ounce Panda
  • Quarter Ounce Panda
  • One Tenth Ounce Panda
  • One Twentieth Ounce Panda

 

The Panda is available in the following sizes (post 2016):

  • 30gm Pands
  • 15gm Panda
  • 8gm Panda
  • 3gm Panda
  • 1gm Panda

 

Panda Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1982-2015Panda 1oz31.10332.05.9999
1982-2015Panda Half Ounce15.551527.9999
1982-2015Panda Quarter Ounce7.775821.95.9999
1982-2015Panda Tenth Ounce3.110317.95.9999
1982-2015Panda Twentieth Ounce1.555213.92.9999
2016+Panda 30 grams3032.9999
2016+Panda 15 grams1527.9999
2016+Panda 8 grams822.9999
2016+Panda 3 grams318.9999
2016+Panda 1 gram110.9999

American Buffalo Gold Coins

The American buffalo is a 24ct “pure gold” coin first produced in 2006 and available in fractions of ounces with face values of $50, $25, $10, and $5, as in the table below. The diameter and height or thickness may vary.

[Learn more about the gold Buffalo coin].

The Buffalo is available in the following sizes:

  • 1oz ($50 denomination) Buffalo
  • Half Ounce ($25 denomination) Buffalo
  • Quarter Ounce ($10 denomination) Buffalo
  • One Tenth Ounce ($5 denomination) Buffalo

 

American Buffalo Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
2006+Buffalo 1oz31.10832.7.9999
2006+Buffalo Half Ounce15.55227.9999
2006+Buffalo Quarter Ounce7.77622.9999
2006+Buffalo Tenth Ounce3.1116.50.9999

Gold Sovereign Coins

The British gold sovereign has been produced since 1817 and is a 22ct gold coin that was in circulation as legal tender. [Learn more about the gold sovereign].

The Sovereign is available in the following sizes:

  • Double Sovereign
  • Full Sovereign
  • Half Sovereign

 

Gold Sovereign Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1820+Double Sovereign15.97628.40.9167
1817+Full Sovereign7.9880522.9167
1817+Half Sovereign3.9919.30.9167

Gold Krugerrand Coins

The South African Krugerrand has been produced since 1967 and is a 22ct gold coin.

Originally (and still) a very popular choice with people wanting to diversify their money into gold, it hit various embargoes and blockades due to the apartheid era of South Africa in the 1980’s and 90’s. [Learn more about Krugerrands].

The Krugerrand is available in the following sizes:

  • 1oz Krugerrand
  • Half Ounce Krugerrand
  • Quarter Ounce Krugerrand
  • Tenth Ounce Krugerrand

 

Gold Krugerrand Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1967+Krugerrand 1oz33.9332.77.9167
1967+Krugerrand Half Ounce16.9627.07.9167
1967+Krugerrand Quarter Ounce8.4822.06.9167
1967+Krugerrand Tenth Ounce3.41216.55.9167

Gold American Eagle Coins

The American Eagle can be a little bit confusing, it is a 22ct gold coin that has been produced since 1986, but the term “eagle” also refers to the pre 1933 $10 gold coins.

[Learn more about American Eagle coins].

Here we’re talking about the post 1986 versions, the details of weights etc are in the table below.

The Eagle is available in the following sizes and denominations:

  • 1oz Eagle
  • Half Ounce Eagle
  • Quarter Ounce Eagle
  • Tenth Ounce Eagle

 

American Eagle Gold Coin Specifications & Dimensions

YearsCoin TypeWeight/GmsDiameter (mm)Fineness
1986+American Eagle 1oz33.93132.7.9167
1986+American Eagle Half Ounce16.96627.9167
1986+American Eagle Quarter Ounce7.77522.9167
1986+American Eagle Tenth Ounce3.3916.5.9167

How To Tell If A Gold Coin Is Genuine

When it comes to telling if a gold coin is genuine or a fake, you really have limited options.

Some fake gold coins are now so sophisticated they can pass the specific gravity test.

If a bracelet or bangle for example has the right core of less valuable metals, covered by a thick coating of gold they can be passable as a genuine solid gold item.

Coins are slightly different because they are always a uniform size, whereas jewellery could be any shape, size, or weight, making it difficult to gauge if it’s real gold or not.

If you carefully measure the diameter and thickness of a coin using digital callipers, and weigh them with an accurate digital scale, then if the coin dimensions and weight are exactly right, and the weight is also right, then the coin must be genuine.

Apart from this you would need to send a coin for assaying, which is going to probably cost more than the coin is worth, and isn’t practical if you’re buying gold coins.

No one is going to let you send take their gold away to send it for testing with the promise you’ll pay later if it’s right.

Where To Buy Gold Coins

When it comes to buying gold coins you have a number of options, but with potentially large sums of money at stake you need to be really careful.

There are always professional bodies whatever country you are in, and buying from a member of such an organisation is always a good idea, but even I have fallen foul of this.

A while back I bought around £9,000 GBP of gold sovereigns from someone who was a registered member of a major coin dealing guild, which claimed to have serious and rigorous codes of conduct.

What I received was around 80% of genuine gold sovereigns, and the other 20% were clear fakes, with poor mouldings, some of them looked like melted blobs of solder where the features should be.

When I complained to them, the answer I got was “oh well they’re just bullion coins valued on the gold content, so it doesn’t matter because they are gold even though they’re fake sovereigns.”

I complained to the official body they were members of and heard nothing, they didn’t do a thing.

So when you are thinking of parting with a lot of money on gold coins you should really try to identify who are the top three or four dealers in the country (don’t worry, since prices are based on gold content of the coins prices will be very similar), and choose one of them.

If you want total security and want to buy more than just basic gold coins, but want uncirculated freshly minted gold coins, then the Royal Mint would be the place to go.

You will always pay a premium on the gold content alone, but you have the absolute confidence that what you buy is genuine, it is also in perfect collector condition, and has the certification to prove it is genuine.

It might seem an odd investment to pay more for a coin then it’s gold content, but as already discussed on this website there are 2 markets for gold coins:

  1. People who want gold at the best possible price;
  2. Coin collectors who want rare, perfect or interesting coins, and the price is not related to the gold content or weight alone;

For example, in the USA the 2006 Mint price for the Buffalo was $800, in 2007 it was $899.95.

Today the 2006 Buffalo is worth at least $2200.

The mint condition and the rise in gold prices over the long term makes a coin directly from the issuing mint a great investment.

Where To Sell Gold Coins

When it comes to selling gold coins you can make or lose a lot of money depending who you decide to do business with.

If you were to go to a local pawn brokers, jewellery shop, antiques dealer, etc, then you are going to get the worst deal possible.

These people have overheads to cover like shops, staff, etc, and they will not be able to sell a gold coin quickly, so it will sit in their stock for a long time and they will price that into what they offer you.

I know for example someone who bought a gold and diamond engagement ring from a jeweller, had it valued by them for insurance at £1200, and when he split up from his girlfriend the same jeweller offered him £90 for it.

Rare Gold Coins

If you have gold coins to sell first of all make sure it isn’t a rare one, like an ancient coin – if it is seek professional advice.

If it’s a sovereign make sure it’s not one of the following dates (since these are rare gold sovereigns and dates which sell for much more than the gold weight alone);

  • 1859 Victoria “Ansell”
  • 1874 Victoria ‘Young Head’ Shield
  • 1908 Edward VII Ottawa Mint
  • 1916 George V Ottawa Mint
  • 1917 George V London Mint
  • 1920 George V Sydney Mint
  • 1921 George V Melbourne Mint
  • 1922 George V Melbourne Mint
  • 1923 George V Sydney Mint
  • 1924 George V Pretoria Mint
  • 1926 George V Sydney Mint

 

If it’s an American Double Eagle make sure it isn’t a 1933 date – if it is you’re a millionaire [read about it here].

Apart from that go through the same process above in selling coins. Find the top dealers in your country with a good reputation and sell your coins to them.

The reason this is the best option is that these companies are set up differently to high street jewellers, etc.

They are set up to buy and melt down huge quantities of gold coins and jewellery and scrap gold and as a volume business they make very small margins, meaning they offer you the best price possible.

If you send them £1000 of gold you will probably receive around £950 in cash.

When you think about the cost of running a business, the refinery fees, the staff they have to pay, etc, this is an excellent pay out for you.

The top gold dealers are all about huge volumes, which means they can keep their costs under control and pass on the maximum value to you, the customer.