By Ron Drzewucki ……
During World War II and on into the Cold War, American G.I.s returning from deployment overseas often came home with handfuls of foreign coins as souvenirs. For many collectors of a certain age, this was their first taste of the fascinating field of coin collecting.
The appeal was that of the exotic. What was businesslike and mundane to a person halfway across the globe was glamorous and valuable to a kid in the United States. It was nothing like boring-ol’ American money.
But while that’s a cut-and-dry way of looking at it, modern world coins are so much more.
In a sense, the whole idea of “World Coins” makes it easier on the American collector and nurtures the American hobby. By dividing the intimidatingly vast field of “Coins” in two (the United States and everything else), it allows new collectors to ease into it–to learn about coins from a more manageable data set, if you will–before taking that thrilling plunge into the inexhaustible waters of the world’s coinage.
We might have Colonial coinage, but the rest of the world has Ancient coinage. Other countries have different design sensibilities and representational traditions, not to mention different methods of manufacturing. And some even have different ideas about what money should be made of in the first place.
Having said that, there are a few world coinages that carry more cachet in the American market.
China is arguably the most popular when it comes to American collectors. More specifically, the Chinese Silver Panda is one of the biggest sellers in the United States. Starting in 1983, the series is large and features a wide array of designs. You won’t get bored collecting Pandas.
Because of their proximity and ready familiarity, our neighbors to the north and south feature prominently in the World coin arena. Canada, along with the Royal Canadian Mint, is home to another of the great bullion coins: the Maple Leaf, a true coin celebrity on the international stage!
The history of Mexican coinage is truly fascinating; at one time, it was even legal tender in the United States. But today, Mexico is particularly well-known for its 1 oz. pure silver Libertad.
Australia is home to the Perth Mint and the Royal Australian Mint. Each mint produces breathtakingly naturalistic coin art featuring the country’s indigenous animals.
Now that we’ve talked about a couple members of the British Commonwealth, why not check out what Great Britain has to offer? The silver Britannia is a top pick of collectors everywhere.
Across the Channel is France — home to one of Europe’s richest numismatic heritages. The Monnaie de Paris began a commemorative series of hammered coinage a few years ago, celebrating historic French leaders.
But lest we forget, the coins of Africa and the Middle East are some of the most interesting of the last 50 years. Somalia recently jumped into the world bullion game with the introduction of its Silver Elephant series. And Israel has been releasing Biblical commemoratives for a few years now.
Modern world coins might be an undervalued market in the United States, but collectors are quickly wising up.
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