Most collectors are accustomed to shopping for coins based on the metal content and the design. However, not all collectors are as concerned with the metal content of a piece as they are with the design. For those more interested in collecting the most coveted designs from American and global coining history, regardless of metal content, clad coins offer and an affordable alternative. Here is your opportunity to learn a few basics about clad coins.
The term “clad” refers to the outermost layer of a coin. Clad coin is a broad-reaching term that can apply to even modern precious metal specimens. For example, it is common for the coins of the American Eagle Silver and Canadian Maple Leaf Silver programs to be “clad” in a thin layer of 24-karat gold on select portions of the design element to create contrast between the silver field of the coin and the specific design elements.
In this case, the term clad is being used to refer to non-precious-metal coins that have been finished to look like precious metal coins. These clad coins are often legal tender circulation pieces, tribute coins, or other replica coins. Each item has a cupro-nickel or other metallic alloy at its core, with a thin layer of gold, silver, ruthenium, or another precious metal applied to create greater visual appeal.
As just mentioned above, it is most common within this category to use the term “clad coin” to refer to items that feature a clad layer of gold on a legal tender piece. For example, the Kennedy Half Dollar Gold-clad coin is a legal tender US 50-cent piece that has been enhanced with a thin layer of gold across the entire obverse and reverse design fields.
There’s no limit to the coins that can be finished with a clad layer. From current legal tender circulation pieces to replica and/or tribute coins, you will find some of the following designs commonly used in clad finishes:
Clad coins are a great alternative to modern bullion coins. While an American Buffalo Gold Bullion coin could be sold at the United States Mint for $1,750 or more, an American Buffalo Gold Tribute Coin with a thin layer of 24-karat gold sells for pennies on the dollar, by comparison, all while offering the same visuals and the design you love.
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