The last gold coins intended for circulation were minted in the late 1990s. The 100 Latu gold coin from Latvia, struck in 1998, was the last gold coin intended for circulation. However, most of the world stopped making gold coins as currency by 1933, as countries switched from the gold standard due to hoarding during the worldwide economic crisis of the Great Depression.
The Bank of Latvia has introduced a historic gold coin with a denomination of 100 lats, crafted from pure gold with a fineness of 999, marking a significant milestone in the Republic of Latvia’s history. This extraordinary coin was produced by the Finnish mint “Rahapaja Oy” to commemorate Latvia’s 80th anniversary.
The 100 lats coin serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it holds the official face value of 100 lats, ensuring its acceptance for transactions and purchases. However, its intrinsic value is also noteworthy, as its gold content, valued based on 1998 gold prices, approximates 100 lats. Gold has long been a universal measure of value, and many individuals choose to store their wealth in this precious metal. Owning a gold 100 lats coin signifies possessing both a 100 lats coin and a quantity of gold, weighing 16.2 grams.
The Coinage Act of 1792 set the ratio of silver to gold at 15:1, which was different than the world market. U.S. gold coins were undervalued compared to silver, so they were exported and melted. Silver dollars were also exported for use in international trade or stored as bullion. Congress passed various Acts to discontinue the silver dollar and gold eagle, and to change the weight of coins and ratio of gold to silver to bring gold and silver coins into circulation. With the help of these laws, new coining technology, and the opening of branch Mints around the country, production increased. Smaller denominations entered circulation, but gold coins stopped circulating in the US in 1933.
The 1933 double eagle is a highly coveted United States 20-dollar gold coin with a fascinating history. Despite the production of 445,500 of these Saint-Gaudens double eagles in 1933, none of them officially entered circulation, and nearly all were slated for melting. However, a fortunate twist of fate saw 20 of these coins saved from the melting pot by means of theft, ultimately finding their way into the hands of collectors before later being recovered. Tragically, eight of these rescued coins were later destroyed, rendering the 1933 double eagle one of the rarest coins in the world, with a mere 14 known specimens in existence. Remarkably, only one of these, famously known as the Weitzman Specimen, remains privately owned. It’s worth noting that the coin was never made available to the public, rendering it illegal to possess any of the 1933 double eagles, except for the unique case of the Weitzman Specimen.