U.S. Gold Coins

Once Used In Commerce, Now Coveted By Collectors • For thousands of years, gold coins served as the backbone of commerce. So when America established its currency system, the Coinage Act of 1792 called for three denominations of US gold coins: the gold eagle ($10), the gold half eagle ($5) and the gold quarter eagle ($2.50). Since then, US coinage has grown to include other gold coins – including ones struck for commerce, commemorative issues and no less than four separate series of gold bullion coins.

Gold Rushes Bring New U.S. Gold Coins

It didn't take long for "gold fever" to sweep the new nation. In 1802, a hefty 17-lb. rock being used as a doorstop in North Carolina was identified as gold. The first US gold rush was on! By 1835, the US Mint had established a branch mint in Charlotte. Then the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 triggered the great California gold rush and the establishment of the San Francisco Mint. New denominations of US gold coins were also struck, including the gold dollar, the $3 gold piece, the $4 gold "Stella" and the $20 gold Double Eagle.

Outlawed for Forty Years

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order requiring all persons turn in not only their US gold coins, but all gold bullion and gold certificates to the Federal Reserve – or face hefty fines and/or imprisonment. Gold remained illegal to own for over 40 years, until President Gerald Ford rescinded the order and signed Public Law 93-373 on December 31, 1974, making it legal once more for US citizens to own gold and use it in trade.

A New Age for U.S. Gold Coins

On December 17, 1985 President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Gold Bullion Coin Act. Gold coins were no longer used in everyday commerce, but the mint once again had the authority to issue gold coins. The popular American Eagle bullion series was quickly introduced. And since then, no less than three other series of US gold bullion coins have been issued: the American Buffalo, the First Spouse and the American Liberty. To learn more about modern and classic US gold coins, visit the Littleton Coin Company Learn Center.