Modern Gold Coins
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While gold was once the universal standard of currency alongside silver and the less precious copper, the relative scarcity of gold and the subsequent changes to the economical status of this modern age has made coin tender all but obsolete, except as a means to invest in a commodity immediately exchangeable to, or convertible to cold hard cash in times of crises. In this modern age, gold coin (commonly known as gold bullion) is usually possessed for the sake of capital investment, gold being a precious commodity that does not depreciate; or for the sake of the hobby known as coin collecting. Where the classification of 'ancient' gold coins end and the classification of 'modern' gold coins begin is something of a grey area for some historians and numismatists.  While a number of historians and experts on ancient coinage agree that ancient coins end during the introduction of Germanic gold coinage sometime during the latter part of the 1800s, while some historians attest that the advent of modern gold coinage came about much earlier at around the middle of the 1400s onwards. 
The deciding factors for what counts as modern or ancient coins is usually decided by a matter of make rather than date. Some historians suggest that modern gold coinage are generally finer looking, and come with standardized 'faces', whereas ancient gold coinage usually comes with a number of different imperfections. The purity of the gold used in the creation of the coinage is also another factor that separates ancient gold coinage from modern ones, in that only modern coins can be made out 99.999% gold fineness, while ancient gold coins may contain various impurities that compromise its purity.
Modern coinage was introduced in different countries at different times. The British Great Recoinage of 1816 introduced a set of currency coins produced to a high standard of machine accuracy. However the commonly accepted date of the advent of modern gold coinage is generally accepted as 1873, when the German Empire introduced the German gold mark as a standard coin that replaced the Gulden issued by the Holy Roman Empire. While machine-made standardized gold coins have existed since 1668 with the introduction of the 'milled' guineas developed by the Africa Company for Charles II, it was not until the introduction of the Goldmark, that the true advent of modern coinage began, along with the development of several standard currencies that would become commonplace in latter centuries. While the Mark was as a "gold standard" coin was abolished during 1914, several modern gold coins from various Empires (British, German) and democratic countries (America) sprung up. Gold as a standard currency was abandoned by many countries with some notable exceptions along with the general production of gold coins, although some exceptions still exist today.
Nowadays, gold coins are still produced in limited quantities by some countries although they no longer serve as legal tender and are sold to chiefly to collectors as well as individual bullion investors who wish to acquire gold wealth. With the introduction of paper money in the West between the latter part of the 1700s on to latter 1900s, the gold coin no longer served as standard currency. Because gold as a commodity did not depreciate, it was highly useful for the growth of a country's economic status. Because of this, modern gold coinage was all but abolished for general usage in the United States by the Executive Order 6102 passed by former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This order prevented the hoarding of gold coins in a bid to help boost the country's lagging economy recover from the Great Depression.  While gold coins are still issued by many countries (i. e. American Gold Eagles, Chinese Gold Pandas, Canadian Maple Leaf, Gold Britannia, etc.), they are now considered no more than collector's items and investment material, and are not made en masse for general circulation.
Modern Gold Coins - References:
Content researched and created by Alexander Leonhart for coinandbullionpages.com © coinandbullionpages.com 2012
Note - this site provides general information about gold, silver, coins and bullion. None of the contents of this web site should be seen as financial or investment advice.