Gold Eagles (1986-)
The American Eagle coin program came about after private Gold ownership was reinstituted in the United States. Starting in 1986 with the Gold and Silver Eagle, these coins have been a staple of U.S. Mint offerings ever since and a favorite among both coin collectors and investments.
Gold Eagle Design
The American Eagle coin program came about after private Gold ownership was reinstituted in the United States. Prior to this point, from the time of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6192 in 1933, private Gold ownership had been banned. There were some few exceptions — Gold coins with numismatic value were exempt, and industrial gold and jewelry was allowed. Up to five ounces of Gold bullion coins were allowed for each person. But such restrictions were severe and had the effect of drastically curtailing U.S. private gold holdings.
President Gerald Ford lifted these restrictions on December 31, 1974, and soon after that point the U.S. Mint began exploring programs to offer Treasury-owned Precious Metals to the public. The first of these was the failed American Arts Gold medallion program, which ran from 1980 to 1984. In 1985 Congress passed a law allowing for the striking of Gold coins, followed rapidly by another act authorizing Silver. 1986 saw the first new Eagle bullion coins minted, with Gold and Silver to start. Platinum was first struck in 1997 and Palladium in 2017.
The Gold Eagle is a coin with a nominal face value of fifty dollars that is made of one troy ounce of 91.67% Gold, 3% Silver and 5.33% Copper, an alloy often called Crown Gold. There are bullion, proof and uncirculated versions available. This coin uses the famous Saint-Gaudens Liberty design with the sun behind her, used on the double eagle from 1097 to 1933. The reverse is a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti.
The Gold Bullion Coin Act authorized the minting of the Gold Eagle. According to these rules these coins are made from Gold mined in the United States and imprinted with Gold content and legal tender face value.
The American Eagle was a watershed point for bullion coins, and since the Gold and Silver Eagles were created there have been quite a few more issues of bullion — not just in the United States, but around the world.
Eagle coins were created for their bullion value, not the numismatic value, but there are some coins that have numismatic value. The 1/10 oz 1999-W bullion strike is a significant error. The 1/4 oz 2008-W burnished version is a key date as well, and the 2006-W, 2007-W and 2008-W burnished 1/2 oz coins have a higher premium as well. The 2006-W reverse proof also has a significantly higher premium than regular Gold Eagles.
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