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Pre-1933 US Gold Coins

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Pre-1933 US Gold Coins

Beginning in the late 18th century, the US Mint began producing gold coins as part of the foundation of the newly formed United States’ coinage. The practice of minting gold coins continued throughout the entirety of the 19th century, but in the 1930s, US president Franklin Roosevelt made it illegal for US citizens to hold gold coins. At the height of the Great Depression, the president mandated that all gold coins in circulation be returned to the US Treasury so that they could be turned into gold bullion bars as the financially crippled country was looking for any possible way to break from the Great Depression’s unforgiving grasp.

Those gold coins that survived through the years are incredibly popular and are sought after by both collectors and investors from around the world. The US Mint continues to produce beautiful gold bullion coins today, but many people agree that those gold coins minted 100+ years ago are the best that have ever left the mint’s facilities.

Gold Dollars

The US Gold Dollar, often referred to as the Liberty Head Gold Dollar, was introduced in 1849 and was continuously produced for 50 years. Through its existence, the Gold Dollar has featured a few different design changes that are divided into Type I, Type II, and Type III Gold Dollars.

The Type I Liberty Head Gold Dollar was designed by James Longacre and features the image of Lady Liberty wearing a coronet in her hair. This Gold Dollar Type I was minted from 1849 until 1854. The Type II Liberty Gold Dollar was also designed by James Longacre and features the image of Lady Liberty. On this version, however, Lady Liberty is depicted as a Native American princess. The Type III Liberty Head Gold Dollar features an image of Lady Liberty similar to what appears on the Type II version, but the Lady’s image is a good bit larger.

The reverse side of the Gold Dollar was changed only once (the reverse of Type I Gold Dollars is a bit different than the reverse of Type II and III). The Type I reverse features a wreath with the words “United States of America” around the outer edges. In the middle of the wreath is the $1 face value, as well as the year in which it was minted. The main difference between the reverse side of the Type I coin and the design which appears on the reverse of the Type II and III is the absence of the “United States of America” inscription. Also, the wreath featured on the reverse of Type II and III Gold Dollars is significantly fuller than the one which appears on the Type I.

Quarter Eagles

The Gold Quarter Eagle is another gold coin produced by the US Mint from 1796 up until 1929. This $2.5 face value coin featured much of the same imagery as is found on the Gold Dollar, but also went under a few unique design changes.

The first Quarter Eagle, produced in 1796, laid claim to the Capped Bust design; later known as the Turban Head design. This particular coin design featured 3 different alterations throughout its more than 30 year history. Robert Scot’s Turban Cap design was produced from 1796 until 1807 until the design was altered by John Reich. In 1808, a new Gold Quarter Eagle was released and showed Lady Liberty wearing more of a traditional hat as opposed to the rather odd looking turban. The newly designed coin was only minted in 1808 as the Quarter Eagle coin was discontinued until 1821. From 1821-1827 the coin’s design remained unchanged. Then, in 1829 and up until 1834, the coin’s design was reduced in size.

In 1834 the Classic Head Quarter Eagle was released and featured an image of Lady Liberty that is eerily similar to the image found on the Type I Liberty Head Gold Dollar. The Classic Head’s design is attributed to William Kneass and is notable due to the reverse side lacking the “E Pluribus Unum” inscription. The Classic Head design was minted until 1839.

The two subsequent versions of the Quarter Eagle included the Liberty Head (1840-1907) and Indian Head (1908-1929). The Liberty Head design was only slightly different than the Classic Head design, but was vastly more popular and was minted for more than 65 years. The Indian Head design was wholly different than any previous design in that it featured the image of a Native American on its face as opposed to the traditional image of Lady Liberty. The last two designs are the two most commonly found in today’s market.

Half Eagles

The Half Eagle gold coin was minted in years identical to the Quarter Eagle and featured a $5 face value. The design changes of the Half Eagle coincide directly with the Quarter Eagle as the coin was minted from 1796 up until 1929.

Double Eagles

The Double Gold Eagle coin is the last of the more popular pre-1933 US gold coins and was first minted in 1849. The Double Eagle played host to two different designs, the second of which was far more popular than the first. Beginning in 1849, the $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle was produced with the image of Lady Liberty facing leftwards on one side while the Great Seal of the United States was featured on the other. Generally speaking, this design was not loved by the American public and was discontinued in 1907.

From 1907-1933, the St. Gaudens Double Eagle was in circulation and featured a design that was entirely different from its Liberty Head predecessor. This coin featured the image of Lady Liberty walking off the face of the coin in front of what looks like a rising sun. The coin’s opposite side boasts the image of a flying American eagle. The St. Gaudens’ design can still be found on the American Gold Eagle coin which is being produced by the US mint today.

Most pre-1933 gold coins are produced containing 90% gold and 10% copper, though some earlier versions have gold content that is approaching 92%.

Packaging and Availability

Every pre-1933 gold coin will be packaged safely and secured for shipping. Individual coins will be protected by a vinyl coin flip while all certified coins will be dispatched in their certified (NGC, PCGS) plastic slabs.

Because all of these coins have been out of production for more than 80 years, their availability is limited and cannot be guaranteed for any extended period of time. These timeless pieces of history are sought after by investors and collectors all over the world and have an extremely high demand year in and year out.