Gold American Eagle Coins
When the United States Mint initially designed the American Gold Eagle Coins, they reached back into history and retrieved what many numismatists believe to be the best coin design ever: the obverse of the Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed $20 Gold Double Eagle minted between 1907 and 1933. The classic Type -1 reverse features a nest of eagles designed by Miley Busiek, commonly referred to as the Family of Eagle design. In mid-2021 the series saw its first major design change in this history of its issuance when the Type-2 design debuted, with a brand new reverse design created by Jennie Norris
This combination of classic and modern coin design has proven to be a winner. First minted in 1986, the American Gold Eagle Coin instantly became one of the most popular gold coins ever struck anywhere, anytime, a status that it retains to this day.
American Gold Eagles have been struck at the Philadelphia Mint in both Proof and Mint State finishes and at the West Point Mint in both Proof and Burnished finishes. The West Point Mint coins display a Prominent "W" mint mark.
The United States Government guarantees the gold content and purity of these coins. The actual gold weight and face value are stamped right into the surface of the coin.
American Gold Eagles are a great way to own gold. Don't miss this true American opportunity! Keep reading below to learn more about the quintessential United States Mint coin issue.
History of the American Gold Eagle
Prior To 1933, gold coins were a part of everyday life in the United States. Although the $10 Eagle Gold coins and $20 Double Eagle Gold coins were rarely seen, the $2.50 and $5 Gold Eagles were common coins that circulated widely. This all changed in 1933 when newly elected President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order directing all Americans to turn their gold coins into the government in exchange for paper money. In essence, and by the stroke of a pen, it became illegal for United States Citizens to own gold currency.
By the mid 1960's, interest in owning gold had grown due to the increase in the price of the metal. In response, South Africa issued the world's first gold bullion coin in 1967. The Gold Krugerrand was unique, as it contained 1 Oz. of gold and had a face value equal to the daily gold price. The Canadian Gold Maple Leaf and the China Gold Panda appeared several years later. By the mid 1980's, it had become obvious that Americans wanted their own gold coins again, and Congress and President Reagan obliged by authorizing the striking of the American Gold Eagle Coin in 1986.
The First Official Gold Bullion Coin of the U.S.
The American Gold Eagle was authorized by the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985. This act permitted the creation of the American Gold Eagle coin series as the first official Gold Bullion coin of the U.S. The coins are issued in four different denominations of four different weights: $50 1 oz., $25 1/2 oz., $10 1/4 oz., $5 1/10 oz. These coins are issued in a variety of finishes as well – a plain business strike for the bullion coin and Proof, Reverse Proof and Burnished finishes for collectors.
United States Gold Eagle Obverse Design
The obverse of the Gold Eagle coin features Lady Liberty and has been used on the gold coins since 1986 and was inspired by Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ celebrated 1907 $20 gold piece. The year 2021 marked the 35th Anniversary Of The U.S. Mint’s American Eagle Coin and as a result updated the designs. Using the historical asset of the original bronze cast of Saint-Gaudens’ original vision, the refreshed design includes modifications to the Capitol Building, stars, torch, and sun rays.
United States Gold Eagle Reverse Design
Sculptor Miley Busiek was the Designer Of The Gold Eagle Reverse Design from 1986 to 2021. This design depicted an eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a second eagle and hatchlings. Since then, the updated reverse design shows a portrait of the American bald eagle. This design also has enhanced security features as they have been updated with a new level of counterfeit designs to include a reeded edge variation.
Are American Gold Eagles Pure Gold?
The American Gold Eagle Coins are made in four denominations that contain 1 Oz., 1/2 Oz., 1/4 Oz., and 1/10 Oz. of .9167 gold, respectively. The coins are struck in .9167 pure gold, with a face value reminiscent of Classic U.S. Gold Coins. The $5 coin weighs 3.93 grams, the $10 weighs 8.483 grams, the $25 weighs 16.966 grams and the $50 weighs a hefty 33.931 grams.
1 oz. U.S. Gold Eagles
The 1 oz. American Gold Eagle is annually issued by the United States Mint. First introduced in 1986 alongside the American Silver Eagle, it has gone on to be one of the most popular gold coins in the world, making it one of the most widely traded and collected. Because this denomination contains 1 troy ounce of gold, it is easy for a purchaser to determine the value based on spot gold prices. This is true even though the coins contain copper and other alloys to make them more durable.
American Eagles are actually struck from .9167 pure gold due to the inclusion of a strengthening alloy
A Variety of Finishes
The 1oz U.S. Gold Eagles are minted in a variety of versions besides the standard bullion coin, including Proof, Burnished, and Reverse Proof coins. Each of these coins is widely collected in ungraded and professionally graded form, and many people seek to build full sets of these coins.
1/2 oz. U.S. Gold Eagles
Available in both collector and bullion versions, the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) standards are the most ideal rating systems when grading a coin of this size. While the largest quantity of 1/2 oz. American Gold Eagles are bullion coins produced for those who stack the coins for their gold content, the U.S. Mint has made certain that Proof versions have been minted just for collectors.
Gold Composition of the 1/2 oz. Gold Eagle
This 1/2 oz. American Gold Eagle is composed of .9167 fine gold, with a balance of copper. This coin has a gram weight of 16.97, and is struck to a diameter of 27 mm. The added copper strengthens the coins. The Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 declared that the gold used when producing this coin must be mined in the United States, making this a thoroughly American coin.
1/2 oz. American Gold Eagle Finishes
The $25 1/2 oz. American Gold Eagle was originally only issued as a bullion coin, but in 1987 - its second year of production - a proof version was struck for collectors. In 2006, a new version of this coin was created for collectors, using a new burnished finish. While the largest quantity of 1/2 oz. American Gold Eagles are produced for those who stack the coins for their gold content, the U.S. Mint has made certain that versions have been minted just for collectors.
1/4 oz. U.S. Gold Eagles
The face value of the ¼ Ounce Gold Eagle Proof Coin Is $10, but like all of its Gold Eagle proof counterparts, the U.S. Gold Eagle coins were not minted for general circulation so each quarter-ounce Gold Eagle coin’s value is tied to the gold content and not necessarily the face value. Because of this, the price will fluctuate with market forces based on the current spot price of gold.
At a typically much lower price point than the one ounce and half ounce Gold Eagle coins, the Quarter-Ounce American Gold Eagle Coin allows for more people to enjoy the widely popular American Eagle design. These iconic American gold coins are graded, certified and available in proof and mint grade conditions from NGC and PCGS. The iconic American coins have a variety of special holders, and each quarter-ounce American Gold Eagle coin can be purchased individually or in quantity with ¼ oz gold eagle coin rolls.
With a diameter of only 22 mm and a thickness of 1.83 mm, it is amazing how detailed the design appears on the 1/4 oz. U.S. Gold Eagle. Per the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, this American Gold Eagles can only be struck out of gold that was mined inside of the U.S. This gold was refined to purity and mixed with copper to create an alloy of .9167 gold and a balance of copper. The resulting weight of this 1/4 Troy oz. gold coin is 8.48 grams.
1/10 oz. U.S. Gold Eagles
The 1/10 oz. Gold Eagle has a diameter of 16.5 mm and a thickness of 1.19 mm, and while you might expect fine details and lack of blemishes to be an issue with a coin this small, $5 1/10 oz. Gold American Eagles graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) make perfect grading conditions quite frequently.
1/10 oz. American Gold Eagle Finishes
This coin was only issued with a business strike in 1986 & 1987, but in 1988 for the first time a version of the 1/10 oz. $5 American Gold Eagle was struck using a collector’s mirrored Proof finish. This stunning new coin was an instant hit among collectors, and sets were soon accumulated. Then in 2006, this coin was released with a special burnished finish. Despite the excellent appearance of the coins with this finish, the U.S. Mint stopped issuing $5 1/10 oz. burnished Gold Eagles in 2008 and have not struck any since. The U.S. Mint has continued issuing 1 ounce burnished coins most years.
Face Value vs. Worth
It really comes down to not judging a book by its cover. The face value of a coin is the literal value that is printed, stamped, or written on the coin whereas the worth may differ depending on a variety of different factors, such as:
- Melt value (the base worth of the metal contained in the coin)
- Historic value
- Aesthetic features
- Mint year
- Grade or condition of the coin
- Mintage limit
NGC and PCGS Certified American Gold Eagles
When the American Gold Eagle Program started in 1986, no one anticipated that stackers would take a keen interest in obtaining the coins by date, mintmark, finish, and quality. Gold Eagles in near-perfect Mint State and Proof 69 and Perfect 70 Condition, as graded by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), can be great additions to any collection.
Proof vs. Mint State
Mint State (MS) coins are struck at the same format as circulation issues, and Proof (PR) is a designation for coins that are struck from a specially prepared coin die in a format for collectors and usually have sharper details. PCGS specifically recognizes Proofs as those struck in 1817 and later.
Mint State or Proof 70 (MS/PR70)
A coin that falls within this standard is virtually perfect, free of visual marks, and with no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification that impact the eye appeal of the coin.
Mint State or Proof 69 (MS/PR69)
A coin with minuscule imperfections that are only visible upon close inspection and are nearly imperceptible, but because of them, cannot be given a perfect MS/PR 70 score.
Availability of American Gold Eagles
With the exception of collector Proof versions and a few special editions, bullion American Gold Eagles are not available directly from the U.S. Mint. The bullion coins are instead sold through a series of authorized distributors who then sell them to the public through their own dealer networks.