With the price of gold remaining strong, you may have reached a decision to sell those old gold coins you have stashed away. Or you may be thinking of purchasing gold coins, and want to know the true value of gold coins before you go along to a dealer.
Whatever your reason for wishing to know the values of gold coins, this information should help.
First, you should understand there are basically two kinds of gold coins on the market.
There are historical gold coins which were issued for circulation in many countries, including the USA, up until the 1920s and 1930s. (Yes, gold dollar coins were once issued too.) These circulation coins include famous ones like the American half eagles, eagles and double eagles, Indian heads and Saint Gaudens, and British sovereigns. These coins are not pure gold, but have some copper or silver added, to make them more durable. However, because of their collector value, these coins are usually worth much more than the value of the gold they contain.
The other main type of gold coin is the modern bullion coin issued by many countries since the 1960s. These coins are not meant to be used as 'money' but for investment or for collectors. Popular bullion coins include the American Gold Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Krugerrand, the Austrian Philharmonic and the Chinese Panda. The value of these coins is the value of the gold they contain (usually one ounce, or the fraction of one ounce as stated on the coin) plus a premium which can be as much as 10% or more.
To find the value of a gold coin whether it is an old gold coin or a modern bullion coin, you need to know the spot price of gold. This is published in most newspapers and online news sites. If you know the weight of the coin a simple calculation will give you a baseline value of the coin (although you may not get as much as the actual gold value of the coin from some dealers). Next, you need to consult online or printed guides for the price of the particular coin you are interested in.
There are many good online services which will show you the actual prices currently being paid for gold coins on auction sites like eBay. You can also browse auction sites like eBay yourself, to see what people want you to pay for particular gold coins. Remember that the rarity, and the condition or grade of gold coins, particularly historical ones, make a huge difference to their value. If you own a gold coin and have trouble identifying what it is, there are excellent books and catalogs you can consult which are still better and more comprehensive than anything online.
For historical coins you will need to know the actual gold weight of the coin (the percentage of the weight which is real gold) to assess its value against the spot price of gold, and many online services also make this easy. For bullion coins, the actual weight is stated on the coin itself.