History of the Gold Eagle
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History of the Gold Eagle

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Authorized by the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, the American Gold Eagle Coin was first introduced by the United States Mint in 1986. Since then, its popularity has grown, making it the most widely traded bullion coin in America.

The Gold Eagle features designs by two of coin design’s most recognized names - Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Miley Tucker-Frost. Saint-Gaudens’ contribution served as the foundation for the design of the obverse of the coin. The image features Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. In the background sits the Capitol building. This was later adopted by Adolph A. Weinman, and used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. The final product was used on both the Silver Eagle and Gold Eagle coins. For the reverse, Tucker-Frost (née Busiek) conceived the image of a male eagle holding an olive branch flying above a female eagle in a nest with her hatchlings. Gold Eagles minted from 1986-1991 are dated with Roman numerals while those made from 1992 on use Arabic numbers. The edges of the coin are reeded.

Each coin is created of metals which, according the Gold Bullion Act of 1985, must be obtained from “newly mined domestic sources” meaning that each coin contains precious metals mined only in the United States. The composition of the Gold Eagle conforms to the time-tested 22 karat standard. 91.67% of the coin is pure gold, while the remaining constitution is 3% silver and 5.33% copper. This alloy yields a harder coin of superior durability, making it less susceptible to the scratching and marring over time that depreciate the value of the coin.

The coin itself is minted in 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz denominations at the West Point Mint in West Point, New York. Each weight carries a face value of $5, $10, $25, and $50 respectively. As such, they are recognized as legal tender. Of course, their intrinsic value at any given juncture is likely to be much higher. The high content of gold causes the market value of the coin to be closely related to the spot-price of gold.

Because, according to the U.S. Mint, their “weight, content and purity are guaranteed by the United States Government,” these Gold Eagle coins carry with them a certain amount of clout, making them regular participants in major global investment markets and coin collecting circles alike.

This information is provided for general reference purposes and does not constitute professional advice. For detailed coin collecting or investing information, please consult with a professional expert.

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