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When a gold investor decides to take the leap and “get physical”, the usual first step is the purchase of a gold bullion coin. Many investors in the U.S., with good reason, are attracted to the American Gold Eagle coin for its liquidity, convenience, and wide availability.

The AGE, however, is not the only game in town. Many other countries’ gold bullion coins approach (and possibly equal or surpass) the popularity of the American Gold Eagle in many parts of the world.

For instance, according to a (now offline) article at ResourceInvestor.com (via the Kitco Forums), the world’s best selling gold bullion coin is minted by the Turkish Mint:

  • It may come as a surprise to most retail gold investors to learn that The Turkish State Mint has issued 134 million “Meskuk” and “Ziynet” gold bullion coins (13 million ounces equals about 405 metric tonnes), making them the world’s best-selling gold bullion coins over past decade. The coins were sold mainly in Turkey and in the Middle East. The United States Mint, by comparison, issued only 9.8 million Eagle and Buffalo gold bullion coins (6.8 million ounces equals 212 tonnes) in the same period.

This is not as surprising when you consider that the traditionally high investor demand for gold in Turkey is now riding the “Grexit” bearish trend. As BullionVault reports:

  • As well as boosting demand for Gold Coins and bars in Turkey, the Eurozone crisis appears to have led to increased interest in Allocated Gold accounts – whereby an investor owns gold outright as his or her property, with the gold being stored in a professional bullion vault under a custody arrangement.
  • A number of countries, notably Turkey and German-speaking European markets, saw an upsurge in demand for allocated metal accounts, largely on the back of concerns relating to European financial stability.
Image of gold coins

Beyond the gold coins minted by Turkey, many other countries’ gold coins enjoy popularity both worldwide and in the U.S. Visit the APMEX ‘Top 40 Products’ page and filter out the fractional gold coins to see a useful ranking of the relative popularity of gold bullion coins amongst the (large) APMEX client base (as of May 19, 2015):

  1. Gold American Eagle
  2. Gold [American] Buffalo
  3. Gold Canadian Maple Leaf
  4. Gold South African Krugerrand
  5. Australian Gold Kangaroo
  6. Gold Austrian Philharmonic
  7. Mexico Gold 50 Pesos AGW 1.2057
  8. Austria Gold 100 Coronas BU
  9. France Gold 20 Francs French Rooster
  10. Swiss Gold 20 Francs Helvetia

Of course, given that APMEX categorizes different countries’ coins somewhat inconsistently from the point of view that we’re trying to get a feel for each coin’s popularity across all years, this ranking must be taken with a grain of salt (e.g., sometimes APMEX lists a specific year’s coin as a unique product, but other times lumps different years together into a “random year” product). Still, the ranking above gives some clues as to which gold bullion coins are most popular among the APMEX client base, which is a decent proxy for the American retail investor market.

In any case, diversifying into different bullion coin types can make sense, even from an investor point of view (since the appeal to a collector is obvious). There are many choices beyond the venerable Krugerrand and the obvious Gold Eagle that have plenty of liquidity for the retail investor.

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Disclosure: The author is long gold.

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