U.S. Gold Coins: A Primer

Anyone interested in United States coins is bound to be intrigued by gold U.S. coins, which were issued as circulating currency by the U.S. government from 1795 until the early 1930s. These coins have a rich history and many of them are highly sought after by coin collectors and gold buyers. This article takes a look at some of these fascinating U.S. coins. 


This group of coins comes in four denominations and were designated as "eagles" by the United States Congress. The first coin minted in this group was the "eagle", a gold coin with a face value of $10. The other coins in this category had face values of $2.50, $5, and $20. They were referred to respectively as the quarter eagle, the half eagle, and the double eagle. At first, gold eagle coins were made of gold and a small amount of silver and copper alloy. After 1840, however, gold eagles and all other U.S. gold coins contained 90 percent gold and 10 percent copper. This series of coins came in a variety of designs.


Gold Dollars

The U.S. government also minted several other gold coins over the years that were not in the eagle category. One of these coins was the gold dollar, which was first minted in 1849 as a result of the discovery of gold in California. Gold dollars were used less frequently than silver dollars as time went along and they were rarely seen in circulation during and after the U.S. Civil War. The last year of production was 1889.

Three Dollar Coin

One of the most unusual gold coins ever produced by the government was first minted in 1854 and had a face value of three dollars. The coin came into being so that the public could buy postage stamps worth three dollars with a single coin. The coin saw relatively little use as time went along and, like the gold dollar coin, it was discontinued in 1889.


The gold coins listed above were all intended for circulation and should not be confused with modern gold bullion coins. The current gold bullion coins, which have been in production since 1986 are intended as an investment. Their value is based on their gold content, not their face value. Although someone could, in theory, use them as legal tender, no one would actually do so because their actual value, which is based on the price of gold, is much more than their nominal face value.

To learn more about gold U.S. coins, contact a gold coin buyer in your city.