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What is the Difference Between a Coin and a Medal? 

There are several distinctions between coins and medals or medallions. The biggest difference is that medals do not have a face value like coins do and they are not intended to be used as circulating money. 

Why Medals are Issued 

Coins are issued to be used in commerce as circulating currency. 

Medals are often issued to commemorate an event, person, or place. While there are also commemorative coins, they are seldom circulated, and like bullion coins, they often have a higher value than their denomination.  

They are collectible like coins, produced like coins, and they look like coins, but in addition to having no face value, they may not have the backing of a sovereign government.  

Who Issues Medals? 

Sovereign governments issue coins. Some medals feature government endorsement and are collected as bullion, like the South Korean ZI:SIN series. 

Other medals may be issued by a government or a private organization. Some medals are produced by a government but only demonstrate that through a mint mark, like the Mexican Numismatic Society medals. 

Are Medals Issued Every Year? 

Coins are issued on a yearly basis but not all medals are made annually. 

Some medals are produced annually, like the American Liberty Medal, which has been issued by the U.S. Mint every year since 1989. For every year of its issue, it has honored a different group or individual to recognize their leadership in pursuit of freedom.  

While it is produced by the United States Mint and features a mintmark, its recipients are selected and presented to by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a private museum. 

Other medals, like the 1976 American Revolution Sterling Silver Jefferson Medal, are only produced once to commemorate an event or the anniversary of an event.  

Medallic Alignment and Coin Alignment 

Have you ever seen the term medallic alignment or coin orientation? Sometimes you will see arrows used to explain these terms, and they indicate the alignment of the design as the obverse and reverse of the coin or medal relate to one another.  

A medallic alignment has both sides of the medal facing up (or down) as the medal is turned from side to side. You do not need to turn a medal over vertically to examine its reverse. Medallic alignment is expressed as ↑↑ and that is because both sides are oriented in the same direction. 

Meanwhile, coin alignment features an obverse and reverse that are not oriented in the same direction. When one side is up, the other side is down. You need to flip a coin over vertically as you rotate it horizontally to see the obverse. Coin alignment might be expressed as ↑↓ because the obverse and reverse are oriented in different directions.  

The Value of Medals 

Like coins, the value of a medal is largely contingent on its precious metal content, condition, rarity, and market demand. Unlike coins, medals are not often produced in large numbers. 

Some historic medals, like the 1800 Washington Funeral Medal, can be highly valuable, priced above $10,000. Other medals may not have such a significant value but will almost always be worth more than the melt value of their precious metal content due to their low mintages. 

Medals can add a layer of artistic appeal and beauty to any collection. 

Quick Guides to Investing

Step 1:

Why Buy Physical Gold and Silver?

If you are concerned about the volatility of the stock market, you’re not alone. The extreme highs and lows of the stock market often lead investors towards safe-haven assets, like bullion. Historically, the Precious Metals market has an inverse relationship with the stock market, meaning that when stocks are up, bullion is down and vice versa.

Step 2:

How Much Gold and Silver Should You Have?

This question is one of the most important for investors to answer. After all, experts suggest limits on how much of any types of investments should go into a portfolio. After deciding to purchase and own Precious Metals and considering how much money to allocate, one can then think about how much and what to buy at any point in time.

Step 3:

Which Precious Metals Should I Buy?

With the frequent changes in the market and countless Precious Metal products available, choosing investments can be difficult. Some want Gold or Silver coins, rounds or bars while others want products that are valuable because of their design, mintage or other collectible qualities. Also, collectors may shop for unique sets and individual pieces for their collections.

Step 4:

When to Buy Gold & Silver

After considering why, how much, and what Precious Metals products to buy, an investor’s next step is when to buy them. This decision requires an understanding of market trends and the impact of economic factors on precious metal prices.

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