Who Has the
Largest Gold Coin of Them All
By Richard Giedroyc
ancient world it was Ptolemaic Egypt that
produced the largest gold coins. During the
early modern era it was Mogul India that
surpassed the coins of ancient Egypt. Today
Canada is arguing it has more recently produced
the largest gold coin ever to be issued.
Well, there is yet another contender entering
the ring even as you read this article.
According to a Feb. 8 Internet posting by
PrudentInvestor, German gold seller Global Metal
Agency is now taking reservations for what it
calls the “Global Liberty,” a .9999 fine gold
item with a weight of 3,333 troy ounces or 103.6
kilos, and a diameter of 50 centimeters. At the
time this article was being written the Global
Liberty was priced at €2.99 million or €897 per
ounce, obviously subject to change as does the
spot price of gold.
According to one news report, “Once manufactured
the Global Liberty will replace the 100 kilo
[3,217 troy ounces] gold coin from the Royal
Canadian Mint as the heaviest gold coin.” There
is only one thing wrong with this statement –
the RCM struck a Canadian coin. Global Metal
Agency is a private entity issuing a gold
medallion, not a coin struck with a denomination
and issued under the authorization of a country.
The Global Liberty simply doesn’t fit the
definition of a coin.
This shouldn’t take anything away from the
Global Liberty as a store of value, but it isn’t
exactly the sort of thing someone is going to
house on a coin board or collect by dates. The
Global Liberty will likely never be slabbed
either. Incidentally, the Global Liberty depicts
the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on the obverse,
with flags of the United Nations on the reverse.
The current record holder in the coin category
is the Canadian issue, with a diameter of 20
inches. The Canadian coin in turn displaced the
previous record holder, the Austria 1,000 ounce
Philharmonic. In 2004 the Austrian coin, which
has a weight of 1,000 ounces (31.1 kilograms or
69 troy pounds or 828 troy ounces) and a
diameter of 15 inches, was dubbed the world’s
largest gold coin by Guinness World Records. The
Austrian coin has an official mintage of 15
pieces, while the Global Liberty will have a
mintage of three pieces.
The 1613 1,000-mohur coin struck in India for
Shah Jahan has a weight of 11.935.8 grams or
383.788 ounces, and a diameter of 20.3
centimeters. At least three examples are known
to have survived, one of these having been
offered unsuccessfully at an auction in
Switzerland in 1987. The whereabouts of this
coin are not currently known, but it appears the
coin may still be in Switzerland.
The Egyptian word for gold is “nub,” which
originates from the name Nubia where many
ancient Egyptian gold mines were located. One
source suggested the entire output of Egyptian
mined gold during the Ptolemaic period may have
only totaled perhaps a ton per year, while Roman
Spain (which was not Rome’s only source for
gold) may have produced as much as 1,400 tons
annually. Octodrachms of 27.7 to 28.4 grams
weight of circa 300 B.C. to circa 116 B.C.
struck in the names of rulers including Arsinoe
II, Ptolemy III, Berenice II, Ptolemy V, and
Ptolemy VI or Ptolemy VIII were the largest gold
coins of their day.
Multiple aurei and solidi weight medallions,
many of the few surviving examples being from
the Constantinian period of the later Roman
Empire, were issued from a number of mints
rather than from a single location.
In early modern Europe unusually large multiple
gold ducat coins were issued, but none of these
can compare to the issues of Mogul India.
All of these gigantic gold coins have one thing
in common – they are a store of value, not
something to be spent.