These are produced and backed by the mints of sovereign governments and are issued as legal tender. As a result of the backing of the government, these are very popular for holding their value by being easy to recognize and easy to trade. This also means that when buying sovereign coins, they will typically carry a higher premium over spot price than a generic, privately minted round which is not legal tender and cannot be spent in public. I’ve included a few of the most popular coins in existence.
American Silver Eagle
Minted by the US Mint, it is one of the most recognizable silver coins worldwide, and the official bullion coin of the United States. ASEs are considered one of the most beautiful coins ever created. The obverse side displays the Lady Liberty wrapped in an American flag and walking out into the sunlight, holding branches of laurel and oak. The reverse side is the eagle holding arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The 13 stars represent the original 13 colonies. The banner in the eagle’s beak says “E Pluribus Unum”, in Latin meaning “Out of many, one”.
A stunning coin minted by the British Royal Mint, the reverse side shows the Britannia, who is a young woman personifying British liberty and democracy. Dressed in a flowing robe, she wears a Corinthian helmet while holding a trident in one hand and a shield with the British flag in the other. On the obverse is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. “D G REG” stands for Dei Gratia Regina which once again in Latin means “By the Grace of God, Queen”. “F D” is short for Fidei Defensor meaning “Defender of the Faith”.
The Chinese Panda coin is one of the few sovereign coins in the world to change their design of the reverse side every single year* making each year’s mintage unique. The obverse design of the coin shows the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, with the phrase “People’s Republic of China” above it. Because of their earlier limited mintage releases and huge popularity, they can sell for substantial premiums over spot price.
*in 2001 and 2002, the reverse side Panda design was the same.
Starting in 2016, the Chinese Mint changed the Panda coins to be minted in 30g of silver instead of all previous years which were minted at 1 troy ounce.
Canadian Maple Leaf
The Royal Canadian Mint’s official sovereign coin is the Maple Leaf, which is one of the few sovereign coins in the world to have a .9999 purity. The reverse bears the sugar maple leaf, while the obverse shows the all too familiar Queen Elizabeth II.
A lot of Maple Leaf coins have an additional small mark of differentiation called a privy mark. These are often images that may have some kind of symbolism or meaning. Since privy marks usually have a limited mintage as well as sentimental meaning, they can become collectibles and have the potential to sell for big premiums.
Perth Lunar Series
While the Lunar Series coins are not Australia’s official sovereign coin, the Perth Mint is certainly one of the more creative ones to issue a myriad of different coins. Coins that come in sets have always been big with collectors who try to complete them, and the Lunar Series is no exception. There are 12 designs based on 12 animals on the lunar calendar, each animal representing 1 year. So to complete the entire Lunar Series set, it takes 12 years! The premiums on the coins grow as they get older, and the cost to complete the set gets more expensive.