American Gold Eagles are minted annually since 1986, in four weight denominations struck with several finishes. Besides the standard bullion coin, other versions include proof, burnished uncirculated, and reverse proof coins. The four different weights are a one ounce (1 oz.) size with a face value of $50 and weighing a hefty 33.931 grams; a half-ounce (1/2 oz.), with a face value of twenty-five dollars, weighing 16.966 grams; a quarter ounce (1/4 oz.) with a face value of $10 weighing 8.483 grams; and a one-tenth ounce (1/10 oz.) with a face value of $5 and weighing 3.93 grams. Each gold coin contains 91.67% gold (22 karats), and contains an alloy of 3% silver and 5.33% copper to help increase the solidity and scratch-resistance of the coins. By law, each coin is guaranteed to contain an exact quantity of gold, which is mined exclusively in the United States from newly mined sources in America, and to meet the rigid quality standards of the U.S. Mint. The market value of these gold coins is tied to the value of their gold content, not face value, and it fluctuates with market forces based on the current spot price of gold. However, there is a strong market for collector versions and low mintages, which carry a higher premium than their bullion counterparts.
Gold Eagle Obverse Design
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to elevate America’s coinage into works of art. He hired renowned artist and sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens to create his final masterpiece just before his death. The St. Gaudens $20 Double Eagle became known as “The Most Beautiful Coin in the World.” The obverse of the American Gold Eagle features the St. Gaudens iconic Lady Liberty’s full-length figure striding forward confidently from the rays of the rising sun and the nation’s capital dome, with her hair and robe flowing freely in the breeze. Her right holds the touch of freedom to light the way, while holding an olive branch in her left hand signifying peace. Surrounded by 50 stars to signify the 50 United States with the inscription “LIBERTY” at the top and both the date of issue and mint mark in the lower right.
Gold Eagle Reverse Design
The reverse side features the namesake of the coin, American Eagles. Designed by the American sculptor, then Miley Busiek, now Miley Tucker-Frost, in 1986. A family of bald eagles in a nest is the focal image, with the male bald eagle is soaring above the nest clutching an olive branch in its talons. The female eagle awaits with her young, vigilantly standing guard over the young hatchlings in the nest with her wings protectively encircling two eaglets, representing the strength and importance of families. The reverse inscriptions read, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” at the top of the coin. The Mottos, “IN GOD WE TRUST,’ is on the right, and “E PLURIBUS UNUM, Latin for “out of many, one,” is on the left. The coin specifications are at the bottom with the face value and weight of the coin. This combination of a classic and modern coin design has proven to be a winner. Since its release in 1986, the American Gold Eagle instantly became one of the most popular gold coins in the world, and has retained this original, iconic design for over 32 years.
Collecting Gold Eagles
When the American Gold Eagle Program started back in 1986, no one anticipated that gold investors would take a keen interest in collecting by obtaining coins by date, mintmark, finish, and quality. The two top-tier grading companies, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), grade American Gold Eagles on a 70 point sales, with 70 being an absolutely perfect coin. Gold eagle proof and burnished gold American Eagles are highly coveted and collected in proof and mint state grades. The United States Mint produces proof and uncirculated options for numismatic enthusiasts. Produced at the West Point Mint, each coin bears the “W” Mint mark under the date. Proof American Gold Eagles are considered among the U.S. Mint’s finest minted collectible coins, and are an excellent addition to any coin collection. The Proof Gold Eagle is often considered one of the most attractive Gold coins in production, and are struck on particularly prepared planchets more than once to provide allow an exceptional and intense proof mirrored finish that is attractive to collectors. The Burnished (uncirculated) American Gold Eagle is minted in a similar process as proof coins, using polished planchets (blanks), that gives these coins a frosted finish with a 3D-like appearance of the design floating above the contrast of the deeply-mirrored background.