While the Coinage Act of 1792 established the US Mint and the American system of coinage, it took years for the Mint to really get started in creating money. With a sprawling land mass of former colonies and newly discovered land, not to mention a largely agricultural population scattered across that land mass, the provision of coinage to the people by the US Mint was substandard.
For decades the primary coinage circulating within the United States consisted of foreign coins, particularly the Spanish milled dollar, or “piece of eight,” and pieces thereof. The shortage was particularly acute when it came to gold coinage. Despite the discovery of gold in both North Carolina and Georgia, the Mint was largely unable to capitalize on those discoveries. Private mints such as the Bechtler mint were largely responsible for creating circulating gold coinage for those areas.
It wasn’t until the 1830s that the United States government created branch mints at Charlotte, North Carolina and Dahlonega, Georgia to take advantage of the vast amount of gold that had been found in those states. In 1837 Congress passed a new coinage act to clarify the weights of US coinage. The silver dollar’s weight remained at 412.5 grains and the gold eagle ($10) remained at 258 grains, but the gold eagle’s gold content was changed from a specified 232 grains (89.92% gold) to 900 parts fine, resulting in an increase to 232.2 grains of gold content.
Along with the new gold content came a new coin design, the Liberty Head design, which was to remain the standard design for US gold coinage until the design began to be replaced in 1907. For decades, from the establishment of minting operations at Charlotte and Dahlonega, the California Gold Rush, the Civil War, and the monumental growth of the US economy in the late 19th century, the Liberty Head design was the face of American money. The design for the eagle, half eagle ($5), and quarter eagle ($2.50) coins went through only minor changes in the 1860s, and their designs differed from that of the $20 Liberty Head double eagle.
With so much gold being found in California, and such a long period of minting, many of these coins remain available to investors and collectors alike. Expect to pay at least 4-5% premiums for the eagles, 8-10% premiums for the half eagles, and 60-70% premiums for the quarter eagles. As with all former circulating gold coinage, these Liberty Head gold coins are not eligible for investment through a gold IRA or precious metals IRA. But if you want to own a piece of American history whose design dates back nearly 200 years to the earliest gold rushes, you can’t do any better than by purchasing a Liberty Head gold coin.
- 90% gold
- Eagle: 16.72 g
- Half Eagle: 8.36 g
- Quarter Eagle: 4.18 g
- Eagle: 0.4838 troy oz.
- Half Eagle: 0.2419 troy oz.
- Quarter Eagle: 0.1209 troy oz.
- Eagle: 27 mm
- Half Eagle: 21.6 mm
- Quarter Eagle: 18 mm
- Eagle: 2.03 mm
- Half Eagle: 1.59 mm
- Quarter Eagle: 1.27 mm