Pre 1933 Gold Coins
Human fascination with gold is as old as recorded history. From as far back as 3,000 B.C., when the Egyptians created the first known currency exchange ratio of gold versus silver, humans have placed a high value on gold.
With gold being widely distributed across the globe and the high value instinctively placed on it by man led gold to be associated with power, beauty, and cultural status.
The first form of money, in the form of gold coins, appeared around 700 B.C.
In colonial America coinage was scarce and many forms of foreign currency was accepted. The Coinage Act of 1792 was the first law authorizing the production of gold coins in the United States. It specified a mandated weight and purity of three new coins: The Eagle ($10), The Half-Eagle ($5), and The Quarter-Eagle ($2.50), amongst other coins.
The Coinage Act of 1857 ended the acceptance of foreign coin as currency and ensured that the only coins being produced were minted in U.S. mints; such as Philadelphia, Dehlonega, New Orleans, and San Francisco. These denominations, along with many others, were still being produced up until 1933 when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102 pulling gold from circulation and making ownership of private gold illegal.
Double Eagles - $20 Gold Pieces
Double eagles contain approximately 1 oz. of gold, and had been the coin of choice for larger transactions up until 1933.
Eagles - $10 Gold Pieces
(1795 - 1804 / 1838 - 1933)
Eagles contain approximately 1/2 oz of gold, and was one of the first three coins authorized by the United States Government in 1792.
Half Eagles - $5 Gold Pieces
(1795 - 1929)
Eagles contain approximately 1/4 oz. of gold, and have been a part of US history since they were put in circulation in 1795.
$4 Gold - AKA - "Stella"
(1879 - 1880)
The "Stella" (latin for Star) was suggested as an answer to various foreign coins. The idea never really took off because the Double Eagle is what people used in foreign transactions most of the time. There was a limited run in 1879, and it is said mint officials made some secretly in 1880 to sell to private collectors.
$3 Gold Piece
(1854 - 1889)
The $3 Gold Piece was a coin that didn't really catch on with the general public. Some numismatists theorize that they were created because they would have been useful for purchasing stamps, which were 3 cents a piece.
Quarter Eagle - $2.5 Gold Piece
(1796 - 1808 / 1821 - 1929)
The $2.50 Quarter Eagle was a mainstay in US money for a long time. There were a few different designs through the centuries. The Quarter-Eagle contains approximately 1/10th of an oz of gold.
$1 Gold Piece
(1854 - 1889)
Contains approximately 1/20th of an oz. of gold.
Territorial and Private Gold
(1830 - 1860+)
These are very interesting coins in US History. Most of these coins were minted by a private mint in areas that didn't have access to regular US currency. An example is in the California gold rush, people were mining gold, but other than the gold that they mined, they didn't have any US Coins to spend. Obviously the nuggets they had in their pockets were of various sizes and they faced the very real possibility that they would be over paying for basic services or products. They would then, in turn, bring their nuggets to the territorial mint and exchange their gold for and equal amount of coins with a more standard amount of gold in it. These coins in numismatic circles are very collectible, and have a really fun story to tell about how things were done in the wild west.
Modern Gold Coins
The coins below are the workhorses for U.S. Gold coins. The mint also produces commemorative gold designs as well from time to time.
Pre 1964 And Commemorative Silver Coins
Since the Ancient Greeks, sliver has been used as coin metal and is possibly the oldest mass produced form of coinage.
Silver coins were circulated widely as money in Europe and later the Americas. From before the time of Alexander the Great until 1964 silver was a standard bearer of monetary coins.
Before 1964, all dimes, quarters, and half-dollars contained 90% silver, after 1964 most common silver coinage contained only 40% fine silver. Eventually precious metals in spendable coins were a thing of the past. That is, until 1986 when the U.S. started making our modern precious metal coinage.
These facts alone speak to the demand, world wide, for silver coins.
$1 Silver Coin
(1794 - 1804 / 1835 - present)
Dollar coins are still available today. The Eisenhower dollar (1971-1978) had .3161 troy oz of silver. Before that you had the Peace Dollar (1921-1935) and it had .77344 troy oz of pure silver. Below is a list of Silver Dollars that came before our modern Silver American Eagle and the Eisenhower Dollars.
The coins below are the U.S.'s answer for 1 oz Silver coins. The mint also produces commemorative silver designs as well from time to time.
The U.S. mint produces a platinum coin in the Platinum American Eagle. The front of the coin has the Statue of Liberty on it, and the reverse has a different design each year.