☆ Us gold coins: Federal Gold Coins of the United States Mint.

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In 1986, the United States began producing gold bullion coins again with the debut of the American Eagle in one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, in 22-karat gold. In 2006 they entered the 24-karat gold market with the Gold Buffalo $50 coin, and in 2007 with the First Spouse $10 dollar coin series.

Current minted US gold coins:

The American Buffalo 24-karat bullion coin features images created by James Earle Fraser, a well-known American sculptor. This is the first 24-karat 0.9999 fine gold coin struck by the U.S. Mint. The $50 coin offers an investment in 24-karat gold in legal tender coin form. American Buffalo gold proof coins were also issued from 2006.

Perhaps most well-known are the American Eagle gold coins. Launched in 1986, these bullion coins have become extremely popular investments. Uncirculated and proof versions of American Eagles are available for collectors. Each proof coin is sealed in a protective plastic capsule, is packaged in a presentation case, and includes a Certificate of Authenticity.

Coin NamePurity
American Gold Eagle91.67% (22K)
American Gold Buffalo99.99% (24K)
American Gold Liberty90% (21.6K)

Denominations and value of modern US gold coins.

  • $5 Dollar gold Coin: Today the mint produces the American Eagle One-Tenth Ounce $5 Gold Proof Coin.
    • Modern $5 gold coins, such as the American Gold Eagle, weigh 1/10 oz and have a gold content of 91.67% 91.67% gold, 3% silver, balance copper. 
  • $10 Dollar: Barbara Bush First Spouse Gold, American Eagle One-Quarter Ounce Gold Proof Coin.
    •  Modern $10 gold coins, such as the American Gold Eagle, typically weigh 1/4 oz and have a gold content of 91.67% or 99.99%, depending on the specific coin.n.
  • $25 Dollar: American Eagle half Ounce Gold Proof Coin
  • $50 Dollar: American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Proof Coin, American Eagle One Ounce Gold Uncirculated Coin,
  • $100 Dollar: American Liberty 2023 High Relief Gold Coin, American Liberty 2021 High Relief Gold Coin, American Liberty One Ounce 225th Anniversary Gold Coin

Why is the face value of 1-ounce gold coins marked as $50 when their actual market value is higher?

There are several reasons behind the face value of 1-ounce gold coins being marked at $50, despite their higher market worth. To begin with, for these coins to be categorized as “coins” rather than “rounds,” they must possess a face value. This distinction is crucial for international trade, as many countries only recognize bullion as “legal tender,” allowing for smoother transactions in terms of taxation and customs.

Congress, through laws dating back to the creation of the U.S. Mint in 1792, mandates that the Mint uses bullion solely for the production of legal tender. The face value on bullion coins, purchased for collecting or investment, serves the purpose of ensuring compliance with these regulations. However, this face value is not indicative of the coin’s actual value in circulation.

The U.S. Mint is bound by Congress’s strict rules regarding coin sizes and face values. These values do not reflect the intrinsic worth of the metals used, and they are not adjusted to account for fluctuating precious metal prices. Bullion coins, unlike regular coins intended for circulation, are non-circulating and primarily serve as investments or collectibles. The low face values help maintain the intended use of non-circulating bullion and prevent them from being treated as ordinary currency.

Likewise the Krugerrand was the first 1 Oz gold coin minted starting in 1967. The South African government chose not to include a denomination due to huge daily fluctuations in the price of gold.

Setting a higher face value on bullion coins could lead to potential problems, invoking Gresham’s law, where coins’ face values exceed their intrinsic worth. This could create an arbitrage situation, prompting the public to exploit the difference in valuations. To avoid such complications, the U.S. Mint adheres to low face values, ensuring that bullion coins are valued for their metal content rather than their face value.

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While the face value on modern bullion coins aligns closely with historical sizes, weights, and face values, it is essential to strike a balance to prevent misuse. Setting the face value too high could lead to unintended consequences, such as people using the coins as ordinary currency, while setting it too close to the metal’s value may encourage accidental circulation. The face value, therefore, serves the purpose of legal compliance and differentiation from ordinary coins, maintaining the intended use of bullion coins as stores of value in metal forms.

Gold First Spouse coins feature a portrait of a first spouse on the obverse and a unique reverse design containing an image that symbolizes the woman’s life and work. These half-ounce $10 coins are made from 0.999 fine gold. The coins are released in the order that the female served as first spouse, with Eliza Johnson, Julia Grant, Lucy Hayes, and Lucretia Garfield coins issued in 2011.

Congress authorizes the Mint to produce commemorative coins as warranted. These are considered legal tender but are not minted for general circulation. The 2011 gold commemorative coins pertain to the Medal of Honor and the U.S. Army. The $5 gold Medal of Honor coin and the $5 gold Service in War U.S. Army coin each feature 90 percent gold composition.

With the raising price of gold and the excellent designs on these new coins, the U.S. gold bullion coins are quite popular with today’s collectors. Collecting gold coins has become an enjoyable and profitable hobby since the days of using gold as a legal tender. Owning any United States gold coin is considered by many to be a highlight of their collection.

US gold coin purity.

The purity of gold coins is measured in fineness, which is a fraction or percentage that is usually expressed as a decimal. For example, a coin that is made of .999 fine gold means that 999 parts per 1,000 are gold, with 1/1,000 parts being another metal in the alloy. In the United States, American Eagle Gold Proof Coins contain 91.67% (22-karat) gold. American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins are also 91.67% gold, with the remaining composition being 3% silver and balance copper. The $20 Liberty Head gold coin and $20 St. Gaudens double eagle, which are recognized and sought after by U.S. investors and collectors, are both 90% pure. 

Purity of some common US gold coins:

Coin NamePurity
American Gold Eagle91.67% (22K)
American Gold Buffalo99.99% (24K)
American Gold Liberty90% (21.6K)
Double Eagle90% (21.6K)
Gold Eagle (prior to 1834)91.67% (22K)

Many of the most recognizable gold coins worldwide are also 90% pure, including British gold sovereigns, Swiss gold francs, and French gold francs. While there are gold coins that are virtually pure, such as “four-nines” and “five-nines” gold coins (.9999 fine and .99999 fine gold, respectively), which are produced by a few of the world’s most respected and technologically advanced mints, most gold coins are not 100% pure gold.

Us gold coins from the 1800s

United States gold coins were not minted until 1795. The first coin that went into production was the half eagle. Later, the quarter eagle and eagle went into production the following year. They all bore the same designs – varying versions of a Liberty head bust on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. The gold content of the coins varied somewhat in the early years, but was finally settled on .900 pure in 1834, with an alloy of silver and copper added to ensure long-wearing properties.

Because gold was more expensive overseas, President Jefferson suspended the minting of the eagle and the silver dollar in 1804 – as these coins were being exported overseas where they were melted down. On June 28, 1834 a new law was passed reducing the weight of standard gold, which put America on the gold standard. Minting of the eagle would resume in 1838. The discovery of gold in California in 1849 also jump-started the American economy and the double eagle ($20 face value) and gold dollar entered production. The $3 gold piece followed in 1853, but was discontinued after its minimum 25-year lifespan ended in 1889.

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The first gold coins – the quarter, half and eagle – all featured the same design – the bust of Liberty, facing either right or left, and wearing a Liberty cap. On the obverse was an eagle – which underwent more obvious design changes than Liberty, from holding a branch in its beak, to a heraldic eagle (bearing a shield on its chest) with having an extremely long neck, to a shorter neck, to a rakish design that looked as if the eagle could actually take flight.

A little bit of variety was introduced in 1849 with the Indian head coin, but nothing really happened until 1907 when President Roosevelt took it upon himself to beautify American coinage – in particular the gold variety. Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Bela Lyon Pratt were commissioned to provide new designs.

Us gold coins pre 1933.

Saint-Gaudens is justly famous for his double eagle, featuring Liberty striding forward out of the coin on the obverse and an eagle in flight on the reverse. For the eagle he created an Indian Head, vastly different from that of his student, Bela Lyon Pratt, who’s Indian head on the quarter eagle and half eagle actually resembled a Native American. Another difference, and one that makes Pratt’s unique in American coinage, is that the designs are sunken into the coin itself, not raised above it. These two coins were unpopular at the time, but are desired collectibles today.

The gold coin era for the United States started to come to an end in the later part of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century when the last gold dollar was minted in 1889, the last quarter eagle in 1929, the last $3 in 1889, the last half eagle in 1929, the last eagle in 1933, and the last double eagle in 1933. After 1933 no longer would gold coins ever be used again as a form of legal tender.

Americans interested in purchasing gold coins do not need to look outside the borders of the country. The U.S. Mint produces several gold coins that are both attractive and valuable. Recent headlines illustrate the popularity of these coins.

QA


Is the production of gold coins still ongoing in the US? Yes, the US Mint continues to manufacture gold coins. The American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins are crafted in four weights: one ounce, half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce. These coins have been part of US Mint production for over 223 years, serving both as circulating currency and collector items. Additionally, the US Mint mints gold Buffalo coins, a series initiated in 2006.

What varieties of gold coins does the US Mint currently produce? The US Mint offers a range of gold coins, including bullion coins, proof coins, and collector coins. Among these are the American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins, available in four weights and composed of 22-karat gold. Introduced in 1986, the American Eagle Gold Proof Coins are collector editions of the official US Mint bullion coins, featuring sizes of one ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce.

Updated April 12th, 2024.

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