Which Medals and Trophies Contain the Most Precious Metals?

Which Medals and Trophies Contain the Most Precious Metals?

What about the gold-toned Oscars that are given to Academy Award winners? They are only plated with a very thin layer of 24-karat gold. Even though they stand 13.5 inches tall and weigh more than eight pounds, they still don’t contain enough gold to recycle for a significant amount of money. But there is value in some trophies, medals and awards...

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Don’t Be Fooled into Buying these Metal Items

Don’t Be Fooled into Buying these Metal Items

Shakespeare once wrote, “All that glitters is not gold.” If he had thought about it, he could have written something similar about silver, platinum, rhodium, and other precious metals. The fact is that some shiny things that look like they should be worth a lot of money really aren’t. They either don’t contain any precious metals at all or they contain such small quantities that there is no point sending them to a qualified precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, because the cost of extracting those metals will be greater than the value of the metals themselves.

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What Are Your Collectable Medals Worth?

When a medal sold for $1.47 million last year, lots of people started to dust off their medals and look at them with renewed interest. Granted, that medal was something unbelievably special. It was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?)

If you own a commemorative medal – or maybe a quantity of them - how much value do you have in hand? It depends, because the value of medals depends on several factors.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

The Collectable Worth

The value of a commemorative medal is affected by a number of factors that include age, country of origin, rarity, and the history of the person or event honored by the medal. (This could be harder to determine, especially if you obtained the medals at an estate sale, garage sale or antique dealer.) How can you research those variables? Here are resources to use . . .

  • Contact an independent appraiser or expert. These organizations can help you connect with one: The American Numismatic Society; the American Numismatic Association; the Token and Medal Society. Note that it is wisest not to get your medals appraised by a dealer who then buys them; if dishonest, he or she could be lowballing you and stealing dollars right out of your pocket.
  • Research the sales of similar or identical medals at auctions. You can start out by checking previous or current sales of similar medals on eBay. Another option is to visit the websites of auction houses that regularly hold auctions of medals and medallic art. They include: Bonhams; Christies; and Spink.

The Value of the Metals that Your Medals Contain

If your medal(s) do not have high collectable value, your next step is to determine the metals that they are made of.

How can you tell? Sometimes it is easy. Jesse Owens’s gold medal was made of real gold, of course. And silver and bronze medals are often (but not always) made of those metals too. Sometimes, commemorative medals will come with documentation that spells out exactly which metals they contain, especially if they are military medals.

Short of such clear signals, it can be difficult to know the makeup of the medals that you own. There are variables, including country of origin and age. In general, newer commemoratives – especially those manufactured in large quantities over the last few years – are apt to contain lower quantities of precious metals than are older medals that were issued in small editions.

If you are trying to determine the value of the metals in a batch of commemorative medals, your wisest strategy is to contact a qualified precious metals recycler or refiner, like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

To Summarize Your Steps . . .

To sum up the advice in today’s post, your first step is to establish the collectible value of your medals. Then, if they do not have high value to collectors, you should determine the value of the precious metals that they contain. For that, you need the services of a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

Related Posts:

There Could Be More Gold in Old Commemoratives and Trophies than You Think
Don’t Let Precious Metals Slip through Your Fingers when You’re Liquidating an Estate
Scams to Avoid when Selling Precious Metals
Recycling Gold Filled Scrap - Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Items
An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery