What Is Bullion?

A Numismatic Definition of Bullion

United States Gold Buffalo Bullion Coin
United States Gold Buffalo Bullion Coin. Image Courtesy of: The United States Mint, www.usmint.gov

Bullion - A Definition

Bullion is a form of a precious metal such as gold, silver, or platinum, from which coin metal alloys are made. In recent years, base metals such as copper, nickel and aluminum have also been trading as bullion. In its pure form it is usually sold and traded in the form of bars and ingots.

Bullion Coins

Bullion is usually purchased in bars and ingots that are at least 99.9% pure. You can purchase these directly from refining companies or through third-party resellers. Recently, national mints such as the United States Mint have entered the bullion market by producing coins that are valued strictly on their bullion content.

The United States Mint produces or has produced the following bullion coins:

  • American Eagle Silver Coin (1 t oz.)
  • America the Beautiful Silver Coin (5 t oz.)
  • American Eagle Gold Coins (1, 0.5, 0.25 and 0.1 t oz.)
  • First Spouse Gold Coins (0.5 t oz.)
  • American Gold Buffalo (1 t oz.)
  •  American Eagle Platinum Coins (1, 0.5, 0.25 and 0.1 t oz.)

Other popular bullion coins issued by various mints around the world include:

  • Gold and Silver Maple Leafs - Royal Canadian Mint
  • South African Krugerrands - South African Mint
  • Perth Mint Kangaroos - Australian Mint
  • Vienna Philharmonics - Austria Mint

The U.S. Gold Eagle is not really pure bullion; it is an alloy of 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper, although the total amount of pure gold contained in these coins is equal to one troy ounce. The U.S. Silver Eagle and the U.S. Gold American Buffalo are both considered to be true bullion coins, since their alloy is at least 99.9% pure.

Fun Fact

The heaviest (containing the highest amount of pure gold) bullion coin ever produced was an Australian Kangaroo coin weighing 32.15 Troy ounces or 2.2 pounds Most bullion coins weigh about one Troy ounce or less.

Example Usage

U.S. coins made of bullion are not intended for general circulation; they are made for the purpose of investing in precious metals.

Edited by: James Bucki