What To Look For In Your Foreign Coins
Silver and gold has been used in coinage for millennia. It's a subject that would take a lifetime to master. Our guide here is just a quick cheat sheet on what we see most frequently in our local market. This will get you started, but we still encourage you to visit us to get more information.
The last year for silver coins was 1967, except for the silver quarter and dime. Those went into 1968 as 50% silver. The common designs you see from 1920 to 1967 are 80% silver. Earlier silver coin issues are sterling silver at 92.5%. Obviously some of the older issues in good condition will have collector value. Canada also issued gold coins for circulation, along with the modern bullion coins under the maple leaf series. We see a lot of Canadian down this way, but have yet to find any of the rare dates.
It likely comes as no surprise that a country like Mexico with a rich mining history also has a diverse line of silver and gold coin issues. These were minted as centavos, escudos, and pesos. The silver coins have a variety of purities based on the year and denomination. The later coins got as low as 10% silver content, where as the first ones minted were 90% silver for many decades. There are also 30%, 42%, 50%, 72%, 80% coins in the mix. Best thing would be to bring what you have into our store to get an accurate value. Mexico also issued bullion coins called Libertads. Those are popular. Modern coins from Mexico are not collectible. The modern circulating pesos have no silver or gold content.
Silver coins from Australia were minted between 1910 and 1963. Until 1945 these coins had a sterling purity of 92.5%. Starting in 1946 that purity moved down to 50%. Some of the earlier Australia coins can be scarce. Anything in perfect condition is worth investigating. Gold sovereigns were used in Australia, but tend to be common today. Australia still issues a wide range of modern bullion coins that trade close to their precious metal weight.
We mostly see British coins dated as 1920 to 1946. Silver coins from that time period have a 50% purity. Prior to 1920, most UK silver had a 92.5% purity, making it sterling. England has been issuing coinage for centuries. Older English coins can be very rare and valuable if they are in nice condition and are from the 1700s or older. Today the UK issues a gold and silver bullion coin called the Britannia.
Common Foreign Gold Coins:
Sovereigns - issued as a full sovereign and half sovereign, trade for their gold weight
20 Francs - issued as a French rooster, French angel, Swiss Helvetia, French Napoleon III
20 Marks - issued by Germany / Prussia
Austria 1 and 4 Ducats
We also see a lot of older foreign silver coins from countries like Cuba, Panama, The Philippines, New Zealand, Fiji, China, Bermuda, Switzerland, India, Germany, Israel, and pretty much any country that was involved in WW2 or has been a popular vacation destination. A lot of this money is from the estates of people who served in WW2 or who traveled a lot. Any silver coin is worth looking at, but it takes some luck for something like that to be collectible.