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History of American Gold Coins

August 06, 20102932 view(s)

Although the United States has a briefer history than many countries in the world, the history of gold coins in the United States is as rich and interesting as any other country’s. From the $5 Liberty Head to the Double Eagle, United States gold coins provide an interesting look at the history of the country.

Although the United States Mint was created in 1792 by the passage of the Coinage Act, it wasn’t until 1793 that they produced the first circulating American coins. They took two more years to create gold coins and in 1795 the United States had its first gold coins. These included the $2.50 Capped Bust, $5 Liberty Head, and $10 Liberty Head.

Gold coins stayed relatively the same until the mid-nineteenth century, which saw a broad range of new gold coins. This period saw the creation of the Type I Liberty Head, the Type II Liberty Head, and, finally, the Type III Liberty Head. Also during this time was the $2.50 Liberty Head, the $3 Indian Princess, and $20 Liberty Head, among others.

1879 saw the introduction of the short-lived $4 Stella, an attempt by the United States to create a coin for international trade. The United States wanted to compete with the British sovereign, the Italian 20 lire, and the Spanish 20 pesetas of Spain. However, this effort never quite worked out and only 472 coins were struck in proof condition.

Twentieth Century Gold Coins

The turn of the century saw a new President, Theodore Roosevelt, assume office with the assassination of William McKinley. President Roosevelt asked sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to redesign American coinage and this move led to a revolution in American coinage, with the period since being heavily influenced by the work of Saint Gaudens.

Saint Gaudens brought about the $10 Indian Head coin as well as the famed $20 Double Eagle. Additionally, Bela Lyon Pratt—a student of Saint Gaudens—designed the famous $2.50 “INCUSE” Indian Head coin that is unique as being only one of two coins in American history, along with the with the $5 Indian Head of the same era, as having an incuse design.

After the confiscation of gold in 1933, gold coins took a hiatus in the United States only to make a return with the Gold American Eagle, authorized by the Gold Bullion Act of 1985, and the Gold American Buffalo, authorized in 2005. Further demonstration the influence of Saint Gaudens, the Gold American Buffalo is based on a 1913 design created by James Earle Fraser, a student of Saint Gaudens. Finally, in 2009, the United States Mint introduced an ultra-high relief coin based on the Double Eagle design of Saint Gaudens from the beginning of the 20th Century.

If you’re interested in adding American gold coins to your collection, contact the United States Gold Bureau today.

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