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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

(1849-1933)
Double eagles contain approximately 1 oz. of gold, and had been the coin of choice for larger transactions up until 1933.

The Saint Gaudens Double Eagle

(1907 - 1933) Containing .96750 troy oz of gold the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle is arguably one of the most beautiful coins ever created by the US Mint. The Modern Day Gold American Eagle uses the same Obverse design.

The Liberty Head Double Eagle

(1849 - 1907) This coin was the first $20 Double Eagle. Over the years there were minor variations, some of which are very collectable. They contain .96750 troy oz.

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.

The Indian Head Eagle

(1907 - 1933) The Indian Head Eagle has two main variations. From 1907 to 1908 there was no motto on the reverse side, and From 1908 through 1933 "In God We Trust" was on the reverse side next to the eagle. The Indian Head Eagle contains .48375 troy oz of gold.

The Liberty Head Eagle

(1838 - 1907) The Liberty Head Eagle has two main variations. From 1838 to 1866 there was no motto on the reverse side. From 1866 through 1907 "In God We Trust" was on the reverse side above the eagle. The Liberty Head Eagle contains .48375 troy oz of gold.

The Capped Bust to Right

(1795 - 1804) The Capped Bust to Right has two main variations. From 1795 to 1797 there was a small eagle on the reverse side. From 1797 through 1804 there was a more recognizable Heraldic Eagle on the reverse side (right-most coin).

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.

The Indian Head Half Eagle

(1908 - 1929) These coins are distinct in US coin design because the were struck with a sunken relief. That simply means that the image on the coin actually sink into the coin. Some think they discontinued these early because there was a belief that they harbored teburculosis. The Indian Head Half Eagle contains .24187 troy oz of gold.

The Liberty Head Half Eagle

(1839 - 1908) The Liberty Heady $5 Gold piece had two main variations. From 1839-1866 there was no motto above the eagle. From 1866-1908 "In God We Trust" appeared above the eagle on the reverse side. The Liberty Head Half Eagle contains .24187 troy oz of gold.

The Classic Head Half Eagle

(1834 - 1838)

The Capped Head to Left Half Eagle

(1813 - 1834) There are a few main variations with this design. From 1813-1829 the coins had a diameter of 25 mm. From 1829 - 1834 the coins diameter was reduced to 23.8 mm. There are other differences, but these are the main ones.

The Drapped Bust to Left Half Eagle

(1807 - 1812) Due to the short time of production, and early date in US history, these are some of the more sought after US numismatic coins.

The Capped Bust to Right Half Eagle

(1795 - 1807) There were a few variations to this design. From 1795-1798 there was the smaller eagle on the reverse side (see center). From 1795-1807 the reverse design switched over to the bigger Heraldic Eagle (see right-most coin).

$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.

$4 Stella

(1879 - 1880) The 4$ Stella was never really put into circulation. Due to the very limited production of these coins, they are one of the most sought after coin in US history. There are two variations to the coin. One has a flowing hair obverse (right-most coin), the other has a coiled hair obverse (left-most coin).

$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.

$3 Indian Princess Head

(1854 - 1889)

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.

Indian Head Quarter Eagle

(1908 - 1929) These coins are distinct in US coin design, along with the $5 gold piece of the same date range, because the were struck with a sunken relief (The image is sunk into the coin). Some think they discontinued these early because there was a belief that they harbored teburculosis. Contains .12094 troy oz of gold.

Classic Head Quarter Eagle

(1834 - 1839) Strinkingly similar to the Liberty Head Quarter Eagle the Classic Head lacks a motto on the reverse side.

Draped Bust to Left Quarter Eagle (Large)

(1808) This is a very rare coin in which the US only minted ~2700 total.

Liberty Head Quarter Eagle

(1840 - 1907) In 1848, 230 ounces of gold were turned over to California's military governor. The gold was turned over to the mint and they struck what is known as "CAL" Quarter Eagles. The Liberty Head Quarter Eagle contains .12094 troy oz of gold.

Capped Head to Left Quarter Eagle

(1821 - 1827) There are two main variations to this coin. From 1821 until 1827 it is deemed "Large Diameter" coins at 18.5 mm. From 1829 the diameter was reduced to 18.2 mm.

Capped Bust to Right Quarter Eagle

(1796 - 1807) In 1796 the obverse doesn't have and stars (left). There are 2 main variations to this coin. 1796 the obverse doesn't have and stars (left-most coin). Also in 1796 but continued until 1807 the obverse had stars (right-most coin).

$1 Gold Piece

(1854 - 1889)
Contains approximately 1/20th of an oz. of gold.

Indian Princess (Large Head)

(1856 - 1889) There are a couple varieties each containing .04837 troy oz of gold.

Indian Princess (Small Head)

(1854 - 1856) This coin contains .04387 troy oz of gold

Liberty head Gold Dollar

(1849 - 1854) On the reverse side some coins had a closed wreath and some had an open wreath. Each coin contains .04837 troy 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.

Gold American Eagle

(1986 - Present) The Gold American Eagle is .999% Pure gold and comes in the following denominations

  • $50 - 1oz
  • $25 - .5oz
  • $10 - .25oz
  • $5 - .1oz

American Buffalo Gold

(2006 - Present) The American Gold Buffalo is .9999% pure gold and comes in the following denominations

  • $50 - 1oz
  • $25 - .5oz
  • $10 - .25oz
  • $5 - .1oz

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.

Peace Dollar

(1921 - 1935)

Trade Dollar

(1873 - 1885)

Gobrecht Dollar

(1836 - 1839)

Draped Bust W/Small Eagle

(1795 - 1798)

Morgan Dollar

(1878 - 1921)

Seated Liberty Dollar

(1840 - 1873)

1804 Silver Dollar

(1804 - 1834)

Draped Bust W/Heraldic Eagle

(1798 - 1804)

Flowing Hair Dollar

(1794 - 1795)

Modern Silver

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.

Silver American Eagle

(1986 - Present) They are only produced in the $1 denomination which is 1 oz of Silver. They are .999% Pure.

Silver American Eagle Proof

(1986 - 2008 AND 2010 - Present) They are only produced in the $1 denomination which is 1 oz of Silver. They are .999% Pure. These proof coins are polished and it gives the coin a mirrored look.

Platinum

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.

Platinum American Eagle

(1997 - Present) The Platinum American Eagle is .999% pure platinum and comes in the following denominations

  • $100 - 1oz
  • $50 - .5oz
  • $25 - .25oz
  • $10 - .1oz