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First introduced in 1986, the American Eagle has become the king of all IRA-approved gold coins because of its worldwide popularity.
Because American Eagle coins are made of 22 carat gold, a common misconception is that they contain less gold than other coins that are made with 24 carat gold. This is simply not true.
The reality is that American Eagles contain the same amount of gold as other coins that are .9999 pure, which all contain .31 grams or 1 troy ounce of gold.
Eagles also contain 1 troy oz of gold, but they also have small amounts of silver (3%) and copper (5.33%) in order to maintain the structural integrity of the coin which makes it slightly larger than the 24 carat coins.
The Eagles are universally known because of its legendary design created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens who was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 to make America’s coinage more attractive.
The obverse side of the American Eagle coin features Saint-Gaudens’ design of Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left.
The U.S. government guarantees that the coins contain the stated amount of actual gold weight in troy ounces, and law requires the gold to come from American sources.
Proofs and certified coins are not approved for IRA’s, generally because they may command a collectible premium.
The American Eagle is available in four sizes: 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz and 1/10 oz which makes the coins affordable for even the smallest of IRA accounts. But if you want the best bang for your buck, go for the 1-oz coin.
At the time of this writing, American Eagle 1-oz coins sell from reputable gold dealers for $1,517, or about $75 cheaper than the Vienna Philharmonic 1-oz gold coins.
The next bargain in 1-oz gold coins hails from Canada…
One could assume that the Canadian Maple Leaf sells at a lower premium because it’s arguably the least attractive of all the IRA-approved coins. The obverse is a portrait of the Queen, with the more recent mintage displaying versions of the 79 year old lady monarch.
Let’s face it – if these coins featured a Victoria’s Secret model rather than an aging Queen they would certainly be more attractive, and ostensibly more popular.
But what the Maple Leafs lack in aesthetic appeal they make up in gold content, which has a certain appeal no matter what the design may be. Maple Leafs are made of 24 carat gold and are .9999 pure.
The softness of 24 carat gold combined with the Maple Leaf’s milled edge and tubed storage causes wear marks to show easily on the coin, as opposed to the slightly harder and more rigid American Eagle.
Canada began minting Maple Leafs in 1979, where the original coin featured a younger, 39 year old version of the Queen. At the time there was only a 1-oz version of the coin.
The more recent Maple Leafs are available in five sizes: 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, 1/10 oz, and 1/20 oz which makes the smallest coin incredibly affordable, but again, if you want the best bang for your buck go for the 1-oz coin.
At the time of this writing, Maple Leaf 1-oz coins sell for $1,505, or about $87 cheaper than the Vienna Philharmonic 1-oz gold coins.
These coins may be the cheapest right now because they are aesthetically the least attractive, but when the price of gold heats up the discount will vanish because any perceived disruption in coin supplies causes investors to value the coin solely on gold content.
Learn more about the top gold, silver, platinum and palladium coins on our IRA approved precious metals page.