The first gold coins appeared in Egypt around 2,700 BC, but they were used primarily as gifts, rather than trade. King Croesus of Lydia (Western Turkey) started to strike first gold coins used for trade in the 6th century BC and also by Chinese in the 6th or 5th century BC. Lydia was conquered by Persia in 546 BC and gold coins became widespread through whole Persian empire and after that through Greek empire Under Philip II of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great who is believed to have looted over 700,000 troy ounces of gold coins in his Persian conquest. Gold coins of Greek empire were coined with a king profile instead of bulls, lions and rams like it was on Lydian and Persian coins.
Romans also started to strike the emperor's head on their gold aureus coins, gold coins became the way to pay their legions. Aureus coin was too valuable for daily transactions and were used by traders, administrators and pay to the legions (a legionnaire received 1 aureus monthly). Gold coinage became thought western Europe thanks to Roman empire, when that empire fell apart after 400 AD, it was almost a millennia before widespread gold coinage returned. Solidus, which was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans survived as the Mediterranean main gold coin, it was minted by the Byzantine empire in Constantinople as the bezant or nomisma. Byzantine's gold coinage continued from the fall of the Western Roman empire until the rise of Venice, who was Byzatine's main trading partner and minted their infamous gold ducats.
Most gold coming from Africa after 700 AD were used to mint dinars by the rulers of the Islamic empire that covered most of the Middle East and north African coast. Because it's forbidden in Islam to picture people, gold coins minted at the beginning in Baghdad, Tripoli and Damascus were decorated by Arabic characters.
After 13th century supply of gold was increased thanks to new mines in Hungary. All Europe started to mint gold coins. In France the mints produced nearly 350,000 troy ounces of gold coin in just one year and other European mints, such as mints of London, Florence, Bruges Genoa and Venice coined over 170,000 troy ounces between them in year. Gold supplies started to change by middle of 15th century, gold started to come directly from West Africa to Europe by ocean and then from the New World, mostly South America. In England under Henry VII the first sovereign was minted in 1489 and it was valued at £1.00. Portugal started to mint a new cruzado gold coins made from African gold in middle of 15th century. By the beginning of 16th century the mint in Seville was using mainly gold from the New World.
British empire minted huge quantities of guineas throughout the 18th century, with the mint striking 3-4 millions per year. The sovereign, replaced the guinea in 1816, which marked the era when gold standard became official. The sovereign with 7.77 grams, 0.25 troy oz at 0.916 fine gold became the sole standard of monetary value with unlimited legal tender.
After gold rushes in Australia and United States in the middle of the 19th century gold production rose dramatically. Gold coin minting dominated in France and the United States and most nations switched from silver to gold coinage by 1900, the time when United States switched to the single gold standard, instead of dual Silver and Gold coinage.
Almost all gold produced during the 19th century was minted into gold coins. Eagles in the United States, Marks in Germany, Sovereigns in Britain and Australia, Roubles in Russia, Crowns in Austria, Florins in Hungary and Napoleons in France totaled over 418 millions troy oz (13,000 tones) in the time of the gold standard before to World War I. When World War I started in 1914 countries started to save their gold and the production of gold coinage almost completely stopped.
United States during the Great Depression in 1933 took over all gold and gold coins from their citizens. This marked the end gold coinage era and the time when gold coins meant for circulation were produced was over. Many countries continue to make legal tender gold coins, but these are primarily meant for collectors and investment purposes and are not meant for circulation.