The First Gold Coins in America: A History Lesson
While there are a lot of metals that can be used to make bullion coins, gold and its alloys have been the most popular choice.
Gold coins in the U.S have experienced an era of renaissance in the past 30-40 years which is why there’s been a rise in the precious metal markets globally. The production of gold coins was authorized in 1792. Here’s a brief history of the first gold coins of the U.S.
The First Gold Coins
The Coinage Act of 1792 ratified the production of gold coins in the U.S. The law precisely authorized the purity and weight of the three new coins and their denominations: the eagle, the half eagle, and the quarter eagle.
The half eagle worth $5 was first issued in 1795, followed by the eagle worth $10 later that year. Quarter eagles with a value of $2.50 were introduced in 1796. The United States Mint issued these coins for more than a century. Each denomination experienced a series of design changes until settlement on the Liberty Head varieties of the Victorian era.
One, Three, Four
$1 gold coins were first initiated in 1849 and were the smallest coins ever made by the United States. The first gold dollars illustrated the popular Liberty Head design of that period.
The Act of February 21, 1853, authorized the three-dollar coin that was issued in 1854. It wasn’t a popular coin, but the four-dollar gold “stella” was. The purpose of the $4-coin was to compete with other international denominations running on the global economy.
In 1892, the United States began issuing NIFC (Not Intended for Circulation) coinage. The Louisiana Purchase Expo gold dollar came out first, followed by the release of the Lewis and Clark Centennial gold dollar the following year. Designed by Robert Aitken, some of the coins featured the Ancient Greek coinage.
The primary purpose of gold coins in the United States has always been to serve as a source of value and hedge against inflation. The value of gold tends to increase every year, unlike paper currency or other assets.