European Gold Coins
Classic European Gold Coins: Much like the U.S. Mint, many foreign governments have produced classic gold coins for circulation. Some of the historic and popular types include:
British Sovereigns: Throughout the rise of England, Great Britain and the British Empire, the British Sovereign developed into the most important and widely used gold coin in international trade and finance. These relatively small-size gold coins, with a face value of 1 Pound, were first issued in 1489 for Henry VII. Even after the relative decline of England as a world power after World War I, the Sovereign has remained in production and continues to command the respect of the world market as a storehouse of wealth in the form of gold bullion. From its inception in 1489 through late 2009, in fact, the British Empire has struck more than 1 billion Sovereigns.
French 20 Francs: As Napoleon expanded and solidified France's power in Europe during the early 19th century, the French monetary system began to play an increasingly important role in the economy of the continent. Where once the British Sovereign served as the dominant gold coin in international trade, the new French 20 Franc coin arose as a powerful monetary rival. Nearly identical in size and composition to the contemporary British Sovereign, the first French 20 Franc coins were struck in 1802. The denomination would actually outlive the French Revolution and Napoleonic Era that created it, for the gold variant of the 20 Franc remained in production until the outbreak of World War I in 1914 resulted in a restructuring of the French monetary system. And even though Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo in 1815 ushered in the era known as the Pax Britannica, the rapid rise of the French 20 Franc solidified its popularity and significance as an international trade coin. It continued to serve alongside the British gold Sovereign into the World War I era and beyond.
Swiss 20 Francs: First struck in 1871, the Swiss 20 Franc served as the nation's primary gold coin until it was discontinued in 1949. During the years it was being minted, the Swiss 20 Franc also proved itself a useful and desirable coin in the avenues of international trade, being close in size and precious metal content to popular contemporary gold coins such as the British Sovereign, the French 20 Franc and the United States Five-Dollar Half Eagle.