United States Gold Coins
The History of Gold in Respect to the US Dollar
In the late 1700s the US established a bimetallic monetary standard and gold was basically fixed at $19.39 which lasted at this fixed amount until 1834 when it was repriced to 20.67. The bimetallic standard took a major turn in the year 1873 with a Coinage Act and silver being dropped from it. The Gold Standard Act of 1900 and the Bretton Woods system were 2 other major systems that backed the US dollar with the precious metal gold, the later system began its demise in 1971. This resulted in what we have now which is a free floating system and otherwise known as fiat currency backed by the US Government and like all the other governments of the world their currencies are no longer back in gold. Wondering what the precious metal goes for in dollars currently:
A thank you to Kitco for the above spot gold price quote. It is indeed a good place to check precious metals quotes as well as commentary on PMs.
The earliest example of a US gold coin (picture above) is the 1795 $10 Draped Bust which displays Lady Liberty facing right on the front and an eagle on the reverse with a wreath in its mouth.
Liberty Head Dollar
The US mint made the Liberty Head Gold 1 Dollar coin (the first of its kind) from the years 1849 until 1889. These 1 dollar gold coins are composed of 90% of the precious metal and feature on their obverse an impression of the face of Lady Liberty facing left. The back has a wreath around the denomination of the coin and well as the year. Above that is struck “United States of America.” The Liberty Head Dollar is composed of .04837 ounce of gold. The design was done by James B. Longacre. The recent opening of 3 new mints at the time: Charlotte, NC and Dahlonega, GA and New Orleans, LA happened per a law signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1835 (the first 2 really specifically for minting gold coins). What preceded this and was a major catalyst was the first 2 gold rushes in the US, one in North Carolina which started in 1799 and the other in Georgia starting in 1829. US mint director Robert Patterson was against a gold dollar coin, citing that the Spanish and Colombian half escudos which had been used in trade in US were not very popular and small. He also seemed to be concerned about fakes being made. While Patterson did delay the gold dollar from being made he couldn’t stop the new major catalyst for the production of this coin which was the California gold rush which began in 1848. The Liberty Gold 1 dollar gold coin had substantial purchasing power during its era of circulation, in many cases being equal to a full day of pay.
Liberty Head Gold 1 Dollar Coin Type 1
There are 3 types of this coin the first or Type 1 (which can be seen in the picture above) displays Liberty donning a coronet sounded by 13 stars, 1 for each original colony. Type 1 was made in the years 1849 until 1854. The diameter of this coin is only 12.7 millimeters (the smallest US coin in diameter ever struck) and it has a total weight of 1.672 grams The value of a Liberty Head Gold Dollar type 1 will vary greatly. After looking around a bit it seems like the cheapest one might find a common date of one of these is about 2x melt value. For something without scratches or some other damage expect more along the lines of approximately 2.5-3x melt if you are lucky. Bear in mind this is based on a few quick observations and you may do better with thorough research and perhaps patience though if the price of gold moves higher this will be difficult. This: price guide might give one an idea what to expect on average. There are Liberty Head Gold Dollar type 1 key dates that will cost a collector a lot more than a few times melt value like 1851 C (Charlotte mint) as one example. A few of the more common Liberty Head Gold Dollar type 1 coins are the 1851, 52 and 53 from the Philadelphia mint. Other mints that struck these coins include D -Dahlonega (Georgia) and O – New Orleans and S – San Francisco.
The following are the first year mintage numbers of Liberty Head Gold Dollar Type 1 with some value notes:
1849 C (Charlotte) ~ 11,634 closed and open wreath varieties (the open wreath is quite rare and sees values in the 6 figures)
1849 D (Dahlonega) ~ 21,588 with Open Wreath
1849 O (New Orleans) ~ 215,000 with Open Wreath
1849 P (Philadelphia, no mint mark) ~ 688,567 closed wreath and open wreath, some have L for Longacre’s initial and others do not
1850 C ~ 6,966
1850 D ~ 8,382
1850 O ~ 14,000 ~ expect to pay in the $300 range for one that has seen a bit of circulation and $1000 or more for uncirculated
1850 P ~ 481,953 ~ this is a more common date Liberty 1 Dollar Gold coin type 1 that you might get for a couple of hundred dollars
1851 C ~ 41,267
1851 D ~ 9,882
1851 O – 290,000
1851 P ~ 3,317,671 ~ common date and the 2nd highest minted
1852 C ~ 9,434
1852 D ~ 6,360 ~ expect to pay at least a couple thousand dollars for one of these and over $10,000 for an uncirculated example
1852 O ~ 140,000
1852 P ~ 2,045,351
1853 C ~ 11,515
1853 D ~ 6,583
1853 O ~ 290,000
1853 P ~ 4,076,051 ~ a common date and the highest mintages of Liberty Gold 1 dollar gold coin type 1, might find a decent undamaged one for a couple of hundred dollars or maybe less
1854 D ~ 2,935 ~ low mintage expect price value to start at a couple of thousands of dollar and go over $10,000 for uncirculated examples
1854 P ~ 855,502
1854 S (San Francisco) ~ 14,632
A couple things to be aware of regarding Liberty Gold 1 dollar gold coin type 1 are that 1853 and 1854 Philadelphia mint examples are known targets for being faked by the unscrupulous so extra due diligence should be taken. A fair number of Liberty Gold 1 dollar gold coins type 1 have been used in jewelry so take extra care in looking for signs of use in such application.
1915 Indian Head Quarter Eagle 2.5 Dollar
The United States of America’s mint struck two and a half dollar gold quarter eagle Indian Head coins from 1908 until 1929. They are ninety percent gold and have .12094 ounces or 3.42859133 grams of the precious metal in their composition. These types of coins were a break from the norm as the main design components are actually below the top surface area. The recessed design was solely used on the Indian Head quarter eagle and on no other coin released in the US for circulation. Collectors today have come to appreciate the work Bela Lyon Pratt did on these coins but that was not always the case.
On the obverse of these quarter eagle gold piece is an impression of a Native American Chief wearing a feathered headdress as well as Liberty at the top and the date on the bottom. The back of it has an eagle standing on its perch boldly.
Take a look at our 1915 $2.5 dollar gold quarter eagle Indian Head in the photos below. This is an outstanding coin than all serious collectors should have at least one of if possible.
US Ten Dollar
The US mint struck gold Indian Head 10 dollar coins (which are in the Eagle category) from 1907 until 1933. Their designer was Augustus Saint-Gaudens who is well known for the outstanding design of the Double Eagle. Going back to the Indian Head Ten Dollar coin, it was made in all 3 mints (Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco) and it has .4837 ounces of gold composing it. There are 2 key dates in particular that are quite value which include the 1920S as well as the 1930S. There were proofs made as well but they are quite rare (all were struck in Philadelphia and made in the years 1908 through 1915).
American Gold Eagles Bullion Coin
The American Eagle Bullion gold coin has been struck since the year 1986 and is still made by the US mint today. It comes in 1/10 which has a $5 denomination, quarter $10, half $25 and one ounce $50 sizes. It was decided that they would reuse the Augustus Saint-Gaudens design previously used on the Double Eagle circulation coin for the obverse. The reverse side of the American Eagle 22 karat gold bullion coin has a design by Miley Busiek soaring holding an olive branch as well as in its nest with its chick.
European Gold Coins
600 years Old
In the image below is a German Gulden coin from the Renaissance period and it is approximately 600 years old. It was struck in the Frankfurt area and its displays an impression of John the Baptist on its obverse. The back side has in its middle the coat of arms for Archbishop Von Nassau with 4 shields around it representing different areas of what are in modern Germany today including Cologne and Bavaria.
The Ducat was a popular gold coin used in europe for several hundred years. It is thought that it was first used around 1200 AD and as a normal circulated coin as recently as the early 1900s. Some countries like the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary still make them today. The Netherlands version still looks like it did back in 1589. Many other countries that formerly struck them including Germany,Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Italian States, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Byzantine Empire etc. So its was produced in several mints throughout Europe and circulated commonly at one time.
The Ducat minted by the Netherlands today is a bullion gold coin and displays a knight on it. While the Ducat has been used but the Dutch for trade for centuries it has been continously minted for trade and bullion by them since Napoleon was removed in the early part of the 1800s. The former currency of the Netherlands is known as the Gulden or Guilder and was backed at one time by the precious metal but the Dutch decided to drop their gold standard in 1936. Common date 10 Gulden coins with Queen Wilhelmina have.1947 oz of gold and can be found with a small premium over spot price. This is especially the case versus a number of other gold coins.
Asian Gold Coins
China makes the bullion Panda gold coin. It has been made since the year 1982 and they feature a Panda bear doing something like holding a branch, climbing a tree etc. (which vary by the year as the design changes yearly). These are available in different variations including 1/20, 1/10, 1 ounce and more. They are solid gold or 24 karat .9999 fine. They are made in 4 different mints in China including Shanghai but there is no mark on the coins designating which one each is from. With some research it possible to tell which mint they come from based on other variations of the coin’s appearance.
Large Gold Coins
Largest in the World
In October of 2011 Australia took the honors of producing the world’s largest gold coin. It was made in the Perth mint and is .9999 fine or pure gold. On the front side of this coin is Queen Elizabeth II and the reverse has an image of a kangaroo. The weight is very impressive, weighing in at 1000 kilgrams or 2204.62262 pounds. With a weight as such this coin is worth tens of millions of dollars. A couple of more stats: its diameter is roughly 80cm wide and its depth is about 12 centimeters.
Canada’s Large Gold Coin Koin Emas Dari Negara Kanada Seratus Kilogram
Back in 2007 Canada made a large gold coin that was formerly the World’s largest. It weighs 100 Kilograms or 3527.39619 ounces. It was producted by the Royal Canadian mint and is pure or .9999 fine. Making it required a high level of engineering and as one might expect it has Queen Elizabeth II on its obverse. The back side has image of the Canadian Maple Leaf. Its face value is $1,000,000 CAD.