What Is The Meaning Of Face Values On Gold Eagles? 


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The first gold Eagle coins were minted in the 19th century, in $1 denominations. Silver shortly became the most popular metals for one-dollar coinage, so the US Mint increased the values of gold coins to $2.5, $5, $10, and even $20 starting in 1849, after the start of the California gold rush.

Today’s Gold Eagle coins are minted with a $50 face value on the one-ounce coins. Fractional coins have corresponding values of $25, $10, and $5, for the ½ ounce, ¼ ounce, and 1/10-ounce coins, respectively. This strikes a nerve with many investors because gold’s inflation adjusted value over the past 40 years should be around $2000. So, why does the US Mint insist on putting $50 per-ounce price tags on coins that are worth exponentially more? Well, let’s look at the back-story.

Pre-1933 coins had face values of $1-$20. One-ounce Double Eagle coins bear that $20 marking, and at the time of their minting were worth about $20 each, since gold’s market price was around that very same value. However, the government froze the gold market, and demanded that holders of gold coins return them for a 20$ cash reimbursement. After this confiscation was enacted, the government raised the price of gold to $35 per ounce, exploiting many safety-seeking gold investors.

Although we can’t be sure, precedent shows that the nominally marked $50 Gold Eagles could become risky holds for investors who prefer a palpable back-up plan in case the economy bottoms out.


By Alexandre Laurent

Alexandre Laurentl is working in the jewelry and investment gold since 2002. Alexandre graduated from The Normandy School of Business and from the University of Perpignan a Bachelor of economics in 1995.

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