June 22, 2023

What is the Difference between Sovereign Mints and Private Mints

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Bullion Coin or Rounds: How to Know the Difference

Scottsdale Mint Silver Stacker. A Bullion Round with 100 grams of .999 Fine Silver

Bullion Round Produced by a Private Mint: Scottsdale Mint


Bullion Coin Produced by the U.S. Mint as Legal Tender

Congratulations, your best friend just handed the two "coins" above to you and said happy birthday. You admire the gift for a few minutes and then start thinking about which one is worth more. Or maybe you notice the one on the right has $1 dollar and notes the coin to be 1oz of Fine Silver. Looking at the coin on the left you notice it doesn't say anything about being worth a dollar amount and it shows 100 grams of .999 Fine Silver.

Congratulations, you just had your first lesson on bullion coins versus bullion rounds. 

When a coin is produced by a Private Mint it is actually called a round. While the term coin is used to represent these non-legal tender items, they are actually not a coin. A coin however is produced by a sovereign government as legal tender. Legal Tender is represented by the dollar amount assigned to the coin.

What you need to know now is which one is worth more. You can figure this out by determining which one has more pure silver in the bullion. In the example above 1oz of Fine Silver in the American Eagle Silver Bullion should have 31.1034768 grams of pure silver. The Scottsdale Mints Silver Stacker shows it to have 100 grams of pure silver. 

Knowing the amount of silver in each lets you know which one is worth more. 

Now, if the bottom dropped out of the silver market and 100 grams of silver was worth $0 dollars, you know one thing! That is, the American Eagle Silver coin is still worth one dollar and that is an advantage of investing in coins that have legal tender. 

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Sovereign Mints

A sovereign mint is a government-owned institution responsible for producing and distributing the official currency of a country. These mints have a long history and play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of national currencies. They produce circulating coins used in everyday transactions, as well as commemorative coins that honor significant events or figures.

Sovereign mints also create bullion coins and bars made from precious metals, which are sought after by investors for their intrinsic value. These mints employ advanced minting techniques, adhere to strict quality control measures, and their coins are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing government, making them widely accepted and trusted in commercial transactions.

Several of the Most Famous Sovereign Mints:

  • United States Mint
  • Royal Canadian Mint
  • The Royal Mint
  • Monnaie de Paris
  • New Zealand Mint
  • The Central Mint of the People's Bank of China
  • The Perth

Private Mints

Private mints are independent companies specializing in the production of bullion coins and bars. Unlike sovereign mints, they are not government-owned and lack the authority to issue official currency. Private mints cater to investors and collectors, offering a diverse range of bullion products made from precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

One key aspect of private mints is their ability to provide a wider variety of bullion products compared to sovereign mints. They often introduce innovative designs, limited editions, and specialty items to cater to specific market preferences. Private mints can collaborate with renowned artists and designers, resulting in unique and visually appealing bullion pieces that attract collectors. This flexibility allows buyers to have more choices in terms of price, design, and customization options.

Another important factor is the emphasis on quality and craftsmanship. While not officially recognized, many private mints uphold high production standards and utilize advanced minting technologies. Skilled artisans are often involved in the manufacturing process to ensure that the bullion products meet industry standards. Private mint products frequently feature intricate designs and are produced in limited quantities, enhancing their collectability and appeal to buyers.

Buyers must conduct proper due diligence when considering purchases from private mints. Researching the reputation and reliability of a private mint is essential to ensure the authenticity and quality of bullion products. Checking the mint's history, and customer reviews, and confirming compliance with industry standards can help buyers make informed decisions and have a positive buying experience.

Sovereign Mint Coins vs. Private Mint Rounds: Understanding the Distinctions and Implications

It is important to distinguish between a private mint round and a sovereign mint coin due to several key factors that can impact their value, recognition, and acceptance.

  1. Legal Tender Status: Sovereign mint coins are recognized as official currency and hold legal tender status within their respective countries. This means they can be used for transactions at their face value. Private mint rounds, on the other hand, do not have legal tender status and cannot be used as official currency.
  2. Authority and Trust: Sovereign mint coins are produced by government-owned mints, which enjoy a high level of authority, trust, and recognition. They are backed by the full faith and credit of the issuing government, which enhances their acceptance and liquidity in the marketplace. Private mint rounds, while they may have their reputation and quality, do not carry the same level of official recognition or government backing.
  3. Collectibility and Numismatic Value: Sovereign mint coins often have a historical or cultural significance associated with them, which can make them more desirable to collectors. Commemorative coins issued by sovereign mints, for example, may have limited mintages or special designs that increase their numismatic value. Private mint rounds, although they may also have limited mintages and unique designs, generally do not possess the same level of historical or cultural significance as sovereign mint coins.
  4. Resale Market and Liquidity: Sovereign mint coins typically have a more established and liquid resale market due to their widespread acceptance and recognition. They are often bought and sold by bullion dealers, collectors, and investors worldwide. Private mint rounds, while they can also be bought and sold, may have a more limited market and may not be accepted as readily as sovereign mint coins.
  5. Quality Assurance: Sovereign mints generally adhere to strict quality control standards and regulations, ensuring the authenticity, purity, and weight of their coins. They employ advanced minting techniques and machinery to achieve precise and detailed designs. Private mints may vary in terms of quality, and it is important to research the reputation and reliability of a specific private mint before purchasing their products.

Understanding whether you are looking at a private mint round or a sovereign mint coin helps you assess factors such as legal tender status, authority, trust, collectability, liquidity, and quality assurance. This knowledge can be valuable when making decisions regarding investment, collection-building, or participating in the bullion market.


In conclusion, both private mint rounds and sovereign mint coins can be viable investment choices for individuals looking to diversify their portfolios with precious metals. However, when considering the option of including these assets in a Self-Directed Precious Metals IRA, it is prudent for investors to prioritize IRA-approved coins.

By opting for IRA-approved coins, investors can ensure the value and safety of their investments within the confines of their self-directed IRA. These coins typically meet specific criteria and have been recognized by the IRS as eligible for inclusion in retirement accounts. They often carry a higher level of market liquidity, recognition, and wider acceptance among dealers, making them easier to buy, sell, and trade within the self-directed IRA framework.

While private mint rounds can be visually appealing and may have unique designs, they may not always meet the strict criteria required for inclusion in an IRA. Investing in IRA-approved coins provides investors with the assurance that their investments align with the regulatory guidelines and enjoy a certain level of oversight and transparency.

Therefore, for individuals considering the inclusion of precious metals in a Self-Directed Precious Metals IRA, it is advisable to consult with a reputable custodian or financial advisor who specializes in self-directed IRAs. They can guide investors toward IRA-approved coins that meet the necessary criteria, ensuring the value, liquidity, and safety of their investment portfolio. By making informed decisions and sticking with IRA-approved coins, investors can enhance the potential benefits and security of their self-directed IRA investments.

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