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Pre-1933 Gold FAQ

  • What is pre-1933 gold?

    Pre-1933 gold is used to describe U.S. legal tender gold coins that were minted between 1795 and 1933. Denominations included a gold dollar, quarter eagle ($2.50), three dollar, half eagle ($5), eagle ($10), and double eagle ($20).

  • Why did the U.S. stop making gold coins in 1933?

    The U.S. government nationalized gold ownership in 1933, confiscating all privately-owned gold except that needed in industry (jewelers, dentists, etc.) and numismatic (rare) gold coins.

  • What is Executive Order 6102?

    Executive Order 6102 was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on April 5, 1933. It authorized the confiscation of privately-owned gold, except for rare numismatic coins.

  • Are pre-1933 gold coins safe from government confiscation?

    This is a claim made by shady dealers to trick people into buying pre-1933 gold coins at blatantly higher prices. The truth is, the government has no need to confiscate your gold anymore. Money is backed by anything, and they can print as much as they want now.

    Also, if the government did want your gold, there is nothing saying that they must follow Executive Order 6102 when doing so. They can write a new law to say whatever they want.

    In short, it isn't going to happen. Don't worry about it.

  • Are pre-1933 gold coins rare?

    Some pre-1933 gold coins are rare. A few are VERY rare. One reason is that when gold prices got high enough, these coins were worth more than their face value. People would buy dozens to thousands of these legal tender gold coins at face value, then melt them down into bars at a profit.

    That said, "common date" pre-1933 gold coins are surprisingly affordable. Prices of gold coins from the very late 1800s and early 20th century compare favorably in price with modern gold bullion coins. The price of a "raw" (uncertified) Saint-Gaudens double eagle in generic "brilliant uncirculated" condition is nearly the same as a modern American Gold Eagle 1 oz bullion coin.

  • Are pre-1933 gold coins pure gold?

    Pre-1933 gold coins were made from 90% gold and 10% copper. They were minted for daily use, and had to stand up in circulation without becoming excessively worn. Remember, the gold content is what gave the coins their intrinsic value. Gold (and silver) coins that became too badly worn were pulled from circulation and melted down to make new, full weight coins.

    The French, Swiss, and Austrians, among others, used the same .900 fineness as the Americans, while the British used a .917 fineness (22K) for their gold Sovereigns.

  • Are dollar coins made of gold?

    The last U.S. dollar coins that were made of gold are the 1889 "Indian Princess" gold dollars. (The image was actually a Caucasian female in a headdress.) These small gold dollars fell out of favor because they were so easy to lose. At 13mm across, they were much smaller than even a dime! A dollar in 1880 was equal to $25 now. It's easy to see why people were worried about losing a gold dollar through a hole in their pocket.

    Any modern "gold" dollars you may find are really made of manganese brass, to give them a golden a look. The first modern "golden" dollars were first issued in 2000, featuring a real Native American woman—Sacagawea.

    Some people can get confused with the Presidential dollar coins that were issued from 2007 through 2016. These coins show American Presidents, starting at George Washington. Each design has the President's years in office. The actual mintage date is on the edge of the coin (the part that touches the ground when you stand a coin up). Almost no one thinks to look for a date there, so they think that the years on the front of the coin are the years it was made.