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The U.S. 1854 (Type I) Liberty Head Gold Dollar
U.S. gold coins from the 19th and early 20th centuries feature some of the most beautiful designs ever minted onto American coinage. Designs include the famous Saint-Gaudens Eagle and Double Eagle denominations ($10 and $20 gold pieces), plus other designs featuring the Native American "Indian," Lady Liberty, and various depictions of the American Eagle.
Many of the U.S. gold coins issued from the 1850s onward are surprisingly affordable, selling for little more than the gold bullion value because these coins were minted in large numbers as a result of the great influx of gold being mined in California and elsewhere in the West. Prices given in this gallery are dealer asking prices for the exact specimen pictured, and not necessarily meant to reflect the average value for a coin of that date and mint in that condition.
1854 (Type I) Liberty Head Dollar; Designed by James B. Longacre; weight 1.672 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 13 mm.
This was the first gold dollar minted in America by the authority of Congress and only lasted for six years before it was replaced by the larger, thinner Indian Head Type. This type was minted from 1849 to 1854, and the NGC-graded MS-62 specimen shown here sold for $395 in June 2006.Continue to 2 of 12 below.
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The 1858 Indian Head U.S. Gold Dollar
1958 Indian Head U.S. Gold Dollar; designed by James B. Longacre; weight 1.672 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 15 mm.
The third gold dollar type was minted from 1856 to 1889. It features an Indian "princess" wearing a feathered version of the Liberty cap. It seems a bit ironic today that our coinage featured the symbol of liberty upon the head of the very Native American we were displacing and sending off to reservations, but at the time, the design was meant to pay tribute. This specimen, dealer graded at AU-55, sold for $225 in June 2006.Continue to 3 of 12 below.
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The 1878 Coronet Type Liberty Head Quarter Eagle U.S. Gold Coin
1878 Coronet Type Liberty Head U.S. Quarter Eagle ($2.50 gold piece); designed by Christian Gobrecht; weight 4.18 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 18 mm.
Lady Liberty is depicted, surrounded by the 13 stars that represent the original 13 U.S. colonies. The most interesting thing about this coin is the way the face value is expressed on the reverse as "2 1/2 D." There is an interesting variety of this type minted in 1848, where the letters CAL were stamped above the eagle's head on the reverse, to signify that the gold used in minting the coins had come from California gold mines. The 1878 specimen shown here was graded MS-63 by NGC and sold for $1,500 in June 2006.Continue to 4 of 12 below.
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The 1910 Indian Head Type Quarter Eagle U.S. Gold Coin
1910 Indian Head Type Quarter Eagle ($2.50 gold piece); designed by Bela Lyon Pratt; weight 4.18 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 18 mm.
This series and its half eagle sister have devices which are set incuse, rather than raised, like most American coins. The coin also lacks a rim, although it does have reeded edges. The specimen shown was graded MS-62 by NGC and sold for $650 in June 2006.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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The 1869 Indian Head $3 U.S. Gold Coin
1869 Indian Head Three Dollar U.S. Gold Coin; Designed by James B. Longacre; weight 5.015 grams, 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 20.5 mm.
The $3 denomination was never very popular with citizens or bankers. As a result, the coins didn't circulate very much, and they tend to appear in higher grades than the other gold denominations of the time. Unfortunately, someone cleaned or polished this specimen, which is what gives it the dullish appearance despite a dealer-given grade of AU-50. It sold for $1,750 in June 2006.Continue to 6 of 12 below.
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The 1849 Coronet Liberty Head Half Eagle Gold Coin ($5 Gold Piece)
1849 Coronet Liberty Head Type Half Eagle; Designed by Christian Gobrecht; Weight 8.359 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; Diameter 21.6 mm.
The half eagle ($5 gold piece) was the very first gold denomination of any type minted by the United States. It was first authorized by Congress in 1792. This specimen, which comes from a later series minted from 1839 to 1866, features a minor die variety where the "49" of the date is slightly doubled. This example was certified 1849/49 by NGC and graded AU-55. It sold for $1,000 in June 2006.Continue to 7 of 12 below.
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The 1909D Indian Head Half Eagle U.S. Gold Coin ($5 Gold Piece)
1909D Indian Head U.S. Gold Half Eagle; Designed by Bela Lyon Pratt; weight 8.359 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; Diameter 21.6 mm.
The design on this coin is incuse (sunken in) like its sister of the same devices, the Indian Head Quarter Eagle. The proud Native American warrior in his feather war headdress adorns the obverse, with the equally proud (and equally feathered) American Eagle gracing the reverse. The best part of all is that this coin usually sells for little more than bullion value in the lower grades. This higher-grade example was certified by NGC at MS-61 and sold for $825 in June 2006.Continue to 8 of 12 below.
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The 1847 Coronet Type Liberty Eagle U.S. Gold Coin ($10 Gold Piece)
1847 Coronet Type Liberty Eagle Gold Coin; Designed by Christian Gobrecht; Weight 16.718 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; Diameter 27 mm.
While the monarchies of Europe had their Gold Crowns, America had its Gold Eagles, first approved by an Act of Congress in 1792. Most of the Gold Eagles before the Coronet Liberty series are scarce and sell for upwards of $6,700 in just the F-12 grade. The Coronet Type, however, is very accessible to the average gold collector in the lower grades, selling for little more than bullion value throughout most of the 1840s and 1850s. The NGC graded AU-58 specimen shown here sold for $1,250 in June 2006.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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The 1881 Coronet Type (With Motto) Liberty Gold Eagle ($10 Gold Piece)
1881 Coronet Type (With Motto) Liberty Eagle; Designed by Christian Gobrecht; Weight 16.718 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; diameter 27 mm.
American currency did not bear any reference to God at all until an Act of Congress in 1864. This Act permitted the Secretary of the Treasury to direct the mint to include "In God We Trust" if it would fit on the coins. The reason this mention of God was added to the coinage was that during the uncertain times before the Civil War, religious folks began petitioning the government to more widely recognize God, lest future centuries think we were heathen.
This Coronet Type Liberty Eagle is identical to the previous issue of Coronet Eagles, except the banner above the eagle's head on the reverse proclaiming, "In God We Trust." The specimen depicted here was dealer graded MS-60 and sold for $410 in June 2006.Continue to 10 of 12 below.
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The 1910-S Indian Head (Saint-Gaudens) U.S. Gold Eagle ($10 Gold Piece)
1910-S Indian Head Gold Eagle; Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens; Weight 16.718 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; Diameter 27 mm.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens' coin designs are among the most beloved in American numismatics. His beautiful Double Eagle design is legendary, but so is his American "Indian" Gold Eagle design. The androgynous obverse portrait seems to recall the artistry of classic ancient Greek coin imagery. The proud American Eagle on the reverse looks as if he is ready to take flight at an instant's notice, despite his folded wings.
Most remarkable of all: rather than a simple reeded edge, Saint-Gaudens placed 46 raised stars that parade around the edge of the coin, one for each State of the Union at the time the coin was minted. Another thing you can't see on this image is the triple-punched "S" mint mark on this example, which is readily visible under six times magnification. It was dealer graded at AU-50 and sold for $560 in June 2006.Continue to 11 of 12 below.
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The 1904 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle ($20 Gold Piece)
1904 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle; Designed by James B. Longacre; Weight 33.436 grams; 90% gold/10% copper; Diameter 34 mm.
The U.S. Gold Double Eagles have just under one full ounce of pure gold in them (.96750 to be exact). They represent one of the greatest bargains in American numismatics because you can own U.S. coins that are 100 to 150 years old for about the cost of the bullion in them. This specimen was dealer graded AU-50 and sold for $680 in June 2006.Continue to 12 of 12 below.
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The 1908 Saint-Gaudens Walking Liberty Double Eagle ($20 Gold Piece)
1908 Saint-Gaudens (No Motto) Walking Liberty Double Eagle; Designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens; Weight 33.436 grams; 90% Gold/10% Copper; Diameter 34mm.
This 1908 example of the legendary Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle (or $20 Gold Piece, as many people call it) is noteworthy for its lack of the motto "In God We Trust." When famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens redesigned the $10 and $20 denomination gold coins in 1907, his good friend President Theodore Roosevelt asked him to omit the motto, because Roosevelt didn't believe God's name belonged on coins. The public outcry resulted in quick action in Congress, and in mid-1908, by Act of Congress, the motto was restored. This specimen was minted before the restoration and was dealer graded MS-62. It sold for $750 in June 2006.