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Who Has the Largest Gold Coin of Them All
By Richard Giedroyc

In the 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.


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