The United States government has been minting coins for well over two hundred years. Among these coins are various types of gold coins. Gold coins tend to stand out from other coins because of their beauty and also due to the public interest in and fascination with gold. The following article provides a brief history of gold U.S. coins.
Authorization and Production
The first official U.S. coins were authorized by the Coinage Act, a law passed by Congress in 1792. This act established the creation of a mint in Philadelphia that would produce a wide range of coins, including three denominations of gold coins. Although the first official coin, a cent, was minted in 1793, the first gold U.S. coins were not minted until 1795.
These first gold coins were produced in denominations of $10, $5, and $2.50. The $10 coin contained 17.5 grams of standard gold, while the $5 and $2.50 contained 8.75 grams and 4.37 grams of gold, respectively. Standard gold was defined as 11 parts gold and 1 part silver and copper alloy. The gold coins had a representation of an eagle on the reverse, which led to these coins being referred to as "eagles." The $10 coin was called an eagle, the $5, a half-eagle, and the $2.50, a quarter-eagle.
The U.S. Mint began to create other denominations of gold coins in the middle of the 19th century. The first gold coins in a $1 denomination were minted in 1849. That same year also saw the first minting of a $20 gold coin. Because $10 gold coins were called eagles, the $20 coins were known as "double eagles."
Some other denominations came along in later years, although they were not widely circulated. A $3 gold coin was produced from 1853 to 1889 but saw little use from the public. A $4 coin, called a "Stella", was minted in 1879 and 1880, although only a few coins were actually produced.
The U.S. Mint stopped producing gold coins intended for circulation in the 1930s. In 1986, however, they began to produce another type of gold coin: the bullion coin. These bullion coins were not meant for circulation. They are investor coins for those who wish to invest in gold by purchasing it in a tangible physical form that can be easily handled. Bullion coins come in different types, based on the amount of gold they contain: a one-ounce coin, a half-ounce coin, a quarter-ounce coin, and a tenth-ounce coin.
To learn more about gold U.S. coins, consult a local coin dealer.