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Bullion coins are popular with both coin collectors and precious-metals investors.
But what exactly is a bullion coin?
In this article, you will learn:
- What bullion coins are
- How much bullion coins are worth
- Which bullion coins are the most valuable
- How (and why) bullion coins are collected
What Are Bullion Coins?
A simple online search on what bullion coins are will yield many results — but let’s consider what the United States Mint (one of the best sources for coin information online) says in describing bullion coins:
“Bullion coins are precious metal coins intended for investors. They are valued by the weight of the precious metal, which fluctuates based on its daily price.” — U.S. Mint
At this point you’re probably asking, “What is the daily price of precious metal?”
Ah, another good question…
The current price of silver, gold, or other precious metals is always changing due to the shifting demands of the bullion market. In fact, the price of gold or silver right now is most assuredly different than it was a few moments ago — especially if you’re reading this during prime trading hours on the domestic and international scene.
But let’s get back to the primary definition of what a bullion coin is according to what the U.S. Mint says…
“Precious-metal coins intended for investors”
Some may take exception at the idea that bullion coins are precious-metal coins for investors!
Yes, historically investors are certainly one of the main groups of buyers of bullion coins. After all, bullion coins are usually minted without much concern for mintages, mintmarks, or other aspects that may make the coin collectible in the eyes of traditional numismatists (aka coin collectors).
Generally, mints strike bullion coins to meet the demands of precious-metals investors — who are looking for the most cost-effective way to buy silver, gold, or other bullion in coin form.
These are the best coins to keep as an investment.
But the times, they are a changin’…
Can You Collect Bullion Coins?
YES — you can collect bullion coins!
In fact, more and more coin collectors are beginning to build sets of bullion coins these days.
Because many coin collectors are realizing that there are plenty of good reasons to collect bullion coins — and some of the most popular bullion coins make fantastic collectibles.
Here’s why modern coins (1950 to the present) are the hottest thing in coin collecting!
Let’s look at some of the facets of bullion coins that make them attractive to collectors:
- Bullion coins are valuable
- Some bullion coins are rare
- Many bullion coins have beautiful designs
- More and more bullion coins are struck in collectible finishes — such as proof
One of the most fascinating things about bullion coins is the fact that they represent the intersection of investing and collecting. That is, many investors will get into coin collecting by way of buying bullion coins. Conversely, many collectors who buy bullion coins will use these purchases to become investors.
So, what are the most popular bullion coins? Let’s look at some of them…
The Most Popular Bullion Coins
The United States Mint began striking bullion coins in 1986 — when the American Eagle program launched.
The American Eagle coins are among the most popular and widely traded bullion coins in the world and include 4 different types of coins:
American Silver Eagles
Debuting in 1986, these one-ounce silver coins have a legal-tender face value of $1. The obverse (“heads side”) is anchored by the Walking Liberty motif by Adolph A. Weinman that appeared on the half dollar from 1916 through 1947. The reverse (“tails side”) featured a heraldic eagle design by John Mercanti from the coin’s debut in 1986 until 2021. Beginning in 2021, a flying eagle design by Emily Damstra has appeared on the coin’s reverse.
American Silver Eagles have been struck in 6 finishes:
- Reverse proof
- Reverse enhanced proof
- Enhanced uncirculated
Several issues in the American Silver Eagle series are considerably rare and valuable, including:
- 1996 bullion strike
- 1995-W proof
- 2008-W Burnished Reverse of 2007
- 2019-S Enhanced Reverse Proof
The American Silver Eagle is the most popular silver bullion coin in the world.
Because American Silver Eagles offer so many different variations in dates and finishes — and they can be purchased relatively inexpensively — the American Silver Eagle is one of the most widely collected bullion coins.
Some even consider it as much a collector coin as it is a bullion coin!
American Gold Eagles
The American Gold Eagle coin was first struck in 1986. The obverse carries a design of Miss Liberty created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (who originally graded the United States double eagle gold coin from 1907 through 1933). The reverse originally showed a family of eagles design by Miley Busiek-Frost, though this changed in 1986, when Jennie Norris designed a new reverse featuring the head of an eagle.
American Gold Eagles come in 4 sizes:
- One ounce ($50 face value)
- Half ounce ($25)
- Quarter ounce ($10)
- Tenth ounce ($5)
American Gold Eagles are primarily struck in 3 finishes:
While not as widely collected as American Silver Eagles, the American Eagle gold coins are often given as gifts.
TIP: Don’t make these rookie mistakes when buying gold coins!
American Platinum Eagles
Debuting in 1998, the American Platinum Eagle features an obverse design by John Mercanti — focusing on the head of the Statue of Liberty. There have been many different reverse designs created by different sculptor-engravers.
The American Platinum Eagle has been available in as many as 4 sizes:
- One ounce ($100 face value)
- Half ounce ($50)
- Quarter ounce ($25)
- Tenth ounce ($10)
In more recent years, the American Platinum Eagle has been primarily offered only in its one-ounce ($100) option. However, these coins are generally sold in proof and bullion formats — giving collectors and investors a variety of choices.
American Palladium Eagles
The most recent addition to the American Eagle family of bullion coins is the American Palladium Eagle. Originally rolling off the presses in 2018, palladium eagles are one-ounce size bearing a $25 face value.
The designs on both the obverse and reverse were originally created by Adolph A. Weinman. The front of the coin shows the familiar Mercury design seen on the dime from 1916 through 1945. The back shows an eagle portrait that first appeared on the 1907 American Institute of Architects gold medal.
American Palladium Eagles are struck in 3 finishes:
- Reverse proof
The U.S. Mint strikes American Palladium Eagles in a 3-year cycle of one finish per year in this order: uncirculated, proof, and reverse proof.
Other United States Bullion Coins
There are many other U.S. coins that are struck as bullion coinage, or are traded as such — including:
- America the Beautiful five-ounce silver coins
- American Buffalo .9999-fine gold coins
- First Spouse $10 gold coins
- MMIX Ultra-High Relief gold coin
- 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower gold coin
- 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II gold coin
- American Liberty High-Relief gold coins
Other coins that are traded as bullion are:
- 90% silver pre-1965 U.S. coins (also known as constitutional silver coins or junk silver)
- pre-1933 U.S. gold coins
- pre-1982 copper pennies
READ NEXT: Gold & Silver Price Charts
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!