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$5 Liberty Gold Coins (Non Certified)

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$5 Liberty Gold Coins (Non Certified)

The 19th century was truly the "Golden Age" of gold coins in the United States. It was a time period when the dollar was backed by gold, meaning you could exchange your banknotes for an equivalent value of gold coins at any reputable bank. In fact, you could even take your own gold to the U.S. Mint and have it coined into gold legal tender at no extra cost.

Unfortunately, this gold specie standard did not survive the crisis situation caused by the Great Depression. But if you know where to look you can find reminders of this bygone era in history, especially with obsolete money and old coins. One fine example are $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle Coins.

The half eagle was a $5 denomination gold coin that was used in the U.S. from 1795 to 1929. For the majority of the 1800s, these coins were defined by the Liberty Head design. It appeared on the $5 Gold Half Eagle from 1839 until 1908, but was also seen on the $2.50 gold quarter eagle and the larger $10 eagle. It was designed by the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time, Christian Gobrecht.

The image of Lady Liberty on the obverse is shown from the left profile in a similar fashion to the Greco-Roman artistic tradition. She wears a small crown with the word "LIBERTY" inscribed across the middle and her hair is kept neatly in a bun, save for a few stray curls around the ears. The bald eagle shown on the reverse design carries an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its talons. Its wings are spread and a Union shield hovers in front of its breast.

Each coin followed the traditional purity standards of the U.S. Mint with .900 fine gold (90% pure gold) that was balanced with copper. The total gold weight of each coin is .24187 troy ounce (about one-quarter troy oz) of gold. For its first two years of issue, the diameter of the coin was 22.5 mm but was reduced to 21.6 mm thereafter.

The Liberty Head half eagle series offers a number of collecting possibilities due to the wide variety of styles of numbering used by the different branch mints for the date on the coins. This is especially true of the older issues in the series. The equipment and methods used by the mint during the first half of the 19th century were considerably less sophisticated than the period that followed.