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What are Sovereign Mints and Private Mints?

The Differences Between Private and Sovereign Mints

There are several mints from around the world that produce Precious Metals products. Some mints are distinguished by regulations while others are not. For collectors and investors, it is important to note the difference between sovereign mints and private mints.

Sovereign Mints
Sovereign mints are sometimes referred to as government mints or national mints. Products produced by sovereign mints are made for legal tender in that country. Oftentimes, there is face value associated with the product and an official legal tender status. Examples of sovereign mints are the United States Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, The Perth Mint, China Mint, and the Austrian Mint. Sovereign mints produce some of the most popular designs like the American Silver Eagles and Austrian Gold Philharmonics.

Private Mints
Private mints are privately owned and do not produce bullion for legal tender. With private mints, they make products with their own branding or designs, purity and metal content. There are no legal requirements to produce a given amount of Precious Metals. Examples of popular private mints are Engelhard, Johnson Matthey and PAMP Suisse.

Differences in terminology – Gold and Silver Coins vs Gold and Silver Rounds
While many people do not differentiate the two, there are differences in terms of value and cost:

  • Coins are produced by sovereign mints and have a legal tender status associated with them. They can carry higher premiums over the spot price of Precious Metals, due to collectibility. Many popular designs are found on Gold and Silver coins.
  • Rounds are produced by private mints and do not have face value or legal tender status associated with them. The price for rounds often hovers near the spot price of Precious Metals.

Though these distinctions may not be consequential in an investor’s decision to buy from a sovereign mint or a private mint, it is still important to know so one can better understand what they are buying.

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