Experts laud the coin for its broad appeal, variety, artistry, and historical significance, but perhaps most of all, it’s celebrated for its unwavering reputation as an enduring store of value. Its purity, weight, and precious metal content is guaranteed by the United States government. All these attributes combined has helped solidify the Gold Eagle as one of the leading gold bullion coins the world over. The Gold American Eagle series was authorized by the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, which aimed to stake an American claim in the world’s gold bullion market and compete with popular national coins of the day, such as the South African Krugerrand and the Canadian Maple Leaf.
The 1985 law dictates that all ensuing gold coins must be made of “gold mined from natural deposits in the United States,” and called for four denominations, each containing a specific troy weight of gold. Denominations include a $5 coin with 1/10 Troy ounces of gold, a $10 coin with ¼ Troy ounces of gold, a $25 coin with ½ Troy ounces of gold, and a $50 coin with one full Troy ounce of gold.
Bullion and proof versions of the coin are issued annually. In the series’ first couple years, the Mint produced only a one-ounce version ($50 face value) in 1986, and only one-ounce and half-ounce ($25 face value) versions in 1987. Each year since, all four legislated denominations have been produced, allowing for continual investment in the coin year after year. In 2009, no proof versions were minted, and instead, the Mint issued a 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle coin.
What’s the difference between bullion and proof coins? How much is a Gold American Eagle coin worth?
While bullion and proof coins are both produced as investment pieces, there are a few notable differences between the two.
Bullion coins derive value from the amount of precious metal they contain, versus from other factors like face value, market supply, and investor demand. For example, the valuation of a one-ounce bullion Gold American Eagle is based on the one Troy ounce of gold it contains, versus other factors like the virtually symbolic $50 face value it carries, how many of them there are available for purchase, or how sought after they are. Since bullion coins are traded on commodities markets, their values are inextricably linked to and fluctuate with, “spot prices” of the precious metal, as the commodity value is called. Although many bullion coins, such as Gold American Eagles, bear face values, these figures are nominal and are far outweighed by how much gold, silver, or other precious metal the pieces contain. Also, bullion coins are only sold initially through reputable dealers like the United States Gold Bureau, and not through the U.S. Mint directly.
Proof coins, on the other hand, do derive value from quantities available, investor demand, and overall quality as established by industry authorities. Proof coins aren't traded on an index, and their values, therefore, aren’t tethered to respective spot prices. As a result, proof coins have proven to be far less volatile than many other investments, leading to the high regard and esteemed reputation they enjoy today.
Production of proof coins is more in-depth, labor-intensive, and requires more oversight than that of bullion coins. Proof production starts with manually feeding polished coin blanks – or round, un-struck pieces of metal – into coin presses, followed by multiple strikes for each coin. Resulting from this extensive process is a highly refined, beautifully executed coin with softly frosted, yet exceptionally sharp images that appear to hover delicately just above the coin’s high-sheen background.
To preserve quality and elevate presentation, proof coins are sold in protective capsules mounted in luxe satin-lined display cases. A certificate of authenticity also accompanies them.
Proof coins can also be graded. Grading is the process of assigning a numeric score to individual proof coins, which in turn denotes the coins’ quality and solidifies its worth. Industry authorities like the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) issue these grades, which range from one – indicating “poor” quality – to 70 – indicating “perfect” quality. The grading rubric used is known as the Sheldon Scale. It was established by William Herbert Sheldon in 1949, updated in the 1970s, and still utilized today.
While high-grade proofs can be more valuable than lesser-condition coins, obtaining these scores does require extra time and effort on the part of the seeking party. Of course, one can argue that bypassing grading altogether would be more straightforward, but as the United States Gold Bureau is committed to offering clients nothing but the highest quality items possible, we see obtaining a grade as a necessary step in securing the worth of your investment. We take on the legwork of securing proof grades, relieving customers of the burden of doing so themselves, and ensuring they are still obtaining quality pieces.
We are proud to carry a proof coin inventory made up almost exclusively of Proof 70 pieces – otherwise known as Investment Grade Coins – which is the top grade and highest quality proof coin on the market. We feel confident that offering only top-ranking proofs eliminates extraneous and often overwhelming research for our clients, streamlines the investment process, and gives customers peace of mind that they are getting a truly worthwhile investment.
Why should I invest in Gold American Eagle Coins?
Gold American Eagles have become incredibly desirable investment pieces for a variety of reasons. Chief among these factors is that the coins are made of gold, one of the oldest known and highest regarded precious metals in the world. Gold is known to be an optimal investment vehicle for safeguarding personal wealth, and in addition to its rarity and broad utility, it helps diversify financial portfolios by incorporating elements not reliant on stocks or bonds for value. Furthermore, gold is tangible, internationally recognized, and easy to buy and sell.
Gold American Eagles possess historical significance on many fronts, which further adds to their appeal. After America’s gold standard was effectively ended in the 1930s, coins made of the precious metal were seemingly lost to history. In 1986, however, the U.S. government authorized a new wave of gold coinage. First off the presses were the Gold American Eagle, the U.S. Mint’s initial major release in the wake of this new era.
All Gold American Eagles are guaranteed by the United States government to contain a legally dictated amount of .9167 fine – or 22 Karat – gold, with copper and silver making up the rest of the contents. This alloy, known in England as “crown gold,” had been defunct in American coinage since 1834, after which, the purity of gold contents was decreased. It wasn’t until 1986, with the commencement of the Gold American Eagle program, that this higher-standard ratio was reinstated.
The design is yet another historical virtue of Gold American Eagles. The coins’ reverse imagery replicates the motif created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens for pre-1933 Gold Double Eagles. This design, originally employed from 1907 to 1933, is thought by many to be amongst the most beautiful in American history and is one that lives on today as a beloved symbol of the country’s greatness.
Gold American Eagles are one of the few coins that can be included in self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts. Gold is an excellent way to add variety to financial portfolios and incorporate investments that don’t rely on more saturated and often volatile markets.
How do I invest in Gold American Eagle coins? Why should I buy Gold American Eagle coins from the United States Gold Bureau?
Aside from being the largest bulk purchaser of numismatic coins from the U.S. Mint, the U.S. Gold Bureau is an official registered Precious Metals Dealer that works to bring trust and integrity to all aspects of the precious metals acquisition process.
We offer clients many ways to invest in Gold American Eagles. Options include, but aren't limited to, individual bullion and PF70 coins of varying denominations and years; 4-coin PF70 sets including one of each of the four denominations from a specified year; or even PF70 denomination-based or “Group”-based date runs. A denomination-based date run includes one coin from each year of the series’ production, all of the same denomination. A Group-based date run includes one coin of each denomination from each year of a specified era – or “Group” – of production. These include the Classic Group (1986-1991), the Modern Group (1992-2000), the Millennium Group (2001-2008), and the Emerging Group (2010 to present day). Learn more about Gold American Eagle Groups here.
For those investors looking to stake a serious claim in the gold market, the United States Gold Bureau also offers what we refer to as the ultimate Gold American Eagle investment: The Complete Date Run Collection. This epic set is the “rarest of the rare” and includes a PF70 coin of each denomination, from each year of mintage since the start of the Gold American Eagle series. Because coins from some years are quite rare, there are less than 145 Complete Date Run Collections in existence around the world. This collection is designed for serious investors who are committed to long-term precious metals holdings and who are looking for genuinely exceptional growth over time.
The U.S. Gold Bureau has partnered with former U.S. Mint Director, Edmund C. Moy, to bring even more esteem and value to our selection of Investment Grade Gold American Eagles. Each Proof 70 Gold American Eagle coin offered by the U.S. Gold Bureau comes with a certification label hand-signed by Ed Moy. So what makes Ed Moy special? For starters, Moy served as the 38th Director of the U.S. Mint – from 2006 to 2011 – in addition to serving as Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel from 2001 to 2006 during the George W. Bush administration. Moy’s career otherwise is an impressive dossier of pivotal roles within various large-scale businesses, as a well-known author, economist, and also a public speaker. This unique value-add is offered exclusively through U.S. Gold Bureau and is expected to provide increased value for years to come.
Bullion Gold American Eagles can be purchased through the United States Gold Bureau’s online store, while PF70 Investment Grade versions are offered exclusively through our Private Client Services Division, which can be reached at (800) 775-3504.
What is the best gold coin to buy?
Each year, the U.S. Treasury issues new bullion – also known as “Mint State” – and proof versions of Gold American Eagles, allowing for additional investments in the coin to be made.
The regular issuance of new coins doesn't necessarily affect the value of Proof 70 Gold American Eagles since this highest grade is difficult to achieve and there are very few coins that do. The United States Gold Bureau is the largest bulk purchaser of numismatic coins from the U.S. Mint and only a small percentage of coins minted come back carrying the PF70 grade.
While bullion Gold American Eagles are indeed worthy investments in their own right, the United States Gold Bureau recommends PF70 versions above all others. The value of proof coins has proven to be much more stable than others, with investment performances eclipsing those of gold bullion for many years. Because of increasing desirability and fixed quantities, PF70, or Investment Grade Gold American Eagles have proven year over year to be most effective in protecting financial portfolios from market slumps and other economic hardships. Proof 70 Gold American Eagle coins are uniquely suited for long-term investments, acting as excellent stores of value and setting the stage for clients to enjoy notable appreciation over time.
How big are Gold American Eagles? How much do Gold American Eagles weigh? What design is on a Gold American Eagle coin?
In addition to dictating the four denominations of coin in the Gold American Eagle series, the 1985 Gold Bullion Coin Act specified size and metric weight for each coin:
- $5 coin, containing 1/10 Troy ounces of gold, measuring 16.5mm in diameter, and weighing 3.393 grams.
- $10 coin, containing ¼ Troy ounces of gold, measuring 22mm in diameter, and weighing 8.483 grams.
- $25 coin, with ½ Troy ounces of gold, measuring 27mm in diameter and weighing 16.966 grams.
- $50 coin, with one full Troy ounce of gold, measuring 32.7mm in diameter and weighing 33.931 grams.
Gold American Eagle Details
Each of these coins is quite small in size and can comfortably fit in one's palm. The 1985 Act required coins to be cast with reeded edges and include a number of inscriptions: "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST," "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," and "E PLURIBUS UNUM."
The obverse of each coin depicts a replica of the historic design Augustus Saint-Gaudens created for pre-1933 Double Gold Eagle coins. The brilliant motif focuses on Lady Liberty gliding proudly forward, left hand extended laterally grasping an olive branch, a symbol of peace, right hand stretched high in the air holding a torch, symbol of enlightenment. Liberty’s hair and dress are flowing magnificently in the wind as a brilliant sunrise crests over the horizon behind her. A small image of the U.S. Capitol can be seen in the bottom left background, while the mintage year is inscribed on the right. The word “LIBERTY” sits along the top edge of the coin, while 50 stars encircle the coin’s entire round edge. Proof coins are inscribed with a “W” mintmark in the bottom right of the obverse, indicating that the coins were struck at the West Point Mint.
Sculptor Miley Busiek designed the reverse of Gold American Eagles, and pursuant to the authorizing act depicts a family of eagles centered around a nest. The male eagle is shown gently descending upon the nest, carrying an olive branch in his talons, as if delivering it to his family. The mother eagle sits calmly embracing her young hatchling as they rest in a nest made of what looks to be more olive branches. The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” beam boldly along the top edge of the coin, while the Troy weight, words “FINE GOLD” and coin’s face value line the bottom edge. America’s motto, “E PLURIBUS UNUM” flanks the left side of the image, while “IN GOD WE TRUST” flanks the right. The artist’s initials can also be seen just below the bottom left portion of the eagles’ nest.