A Brief History of Gold and Gold Coins
Scientists say that all gold was created by the collision of neutron stars in the far reaches of the galaxy. When the earth formed, asteroids brought gold to the surface of our planet. Gold is one of the heaviest and least chemically reactive elements, giving it its most sought after property: Gold endures. It's not going away. It's here to stay.
The scarcity and endurance of gold led to the striking of the first gold coins in ancient times. These early gold coins picturing gods and heroes were hand struck, one at a time, making each one a unique treasure. And they certainly are treasures. Many ancient gold coins are among the most valuable coins in existence.
During the Middle Ages gold coins continued to be struck, and these are scarce, too. With the discovery of the New World this all changed. The amount of gold flowing out of the mines was enormous, and the Spanish who controlled much of it, used it to strike one of the most fabled coins of all times: The Gold Doubloon. Pirates killed for it, hurricanes sunk them by the chest full, and captain Ahab nailed one to the mast of the Pequod, to be claimed by the first sailor who spotted Moby Dick.
When the United States of America was founded, this classic Spanish gold coin served as the model for all Classic U.S. Gold coins.
The Battle for Gold as Money
Up until World War I, gold coins were money, in fact gold was the only real money in most countries around the world. But all that was soon to change. The crushing cost of the war forced all of Europe to abandon the gold standard, and gold coins rapidly disappeared from circulation.
In the United States, the Mint stopped striking gold coins in 1933, and it was actually illegal for Americans to own gold.
In 1967, the Gold Krugerrand was struck in South Africa. It was the first modern gold bullion coin struck anywhere, and in the following years countries like Canada and China followed the Krugerrand with their own bullion gold coins, the Gold Maple Leaf and the Gold Panda. Although a latecomer, the American Gold Eagle joined the others in 1986 and quickly became the most popular gold coin in the world.