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What is an American Gold Eagle?

What is an American Gold Eagle?

In 1986, the country saw the first distribution of the American Gold Eagle by the United States Mint. These 22 karat gold bullion coins were made available in four different sizes, with each one consisting of the specified weight in pure gold. These sizes include one-ounce, one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce. The U.S. Mint produces bullion coins through an intricate network of certified purchasers.

The design for the coin’s obverse is essentially a duplicate of the Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle, which was designed by Augustus Saint Gaudens. It depicts the figure of Liberty holding an olive branch and a lit torch while striding forward in a bold fashion. The design on the reverse side of the coin was courtesy of Miley Busiek, and it was made specifically for the new series of bullion coins. It presents a male eagle bringing an olive branch to a nest where the mother is sitting with several young eagles.

Ever since the first American Gold Eagles’ initial release, they would go on to make appearances in four different formats. These are ‘bullion,’ ‘burnished,’ ‘proof,’ and ‘reverse proof.’

  • Bullion American Gold Eagles are comparatively less expensive than the other major product categories. While featuring elaborate details and adequate surface quality, collectors do not actively pursue them. The primary market for Bullion Gold Eagles lies with the investor set, and the distribution of such coins are typically in large numbers.
  • The burnished finish is widely regarded as being a premium numismatic strike, bestowing a considerably greater value on the coin over its spot price. The distribution of these particular coins has been infrequent over the years and has been seen predominantly on the $50 one-ounce Gold Eagle
  • Proof American Gold Eagles are targeted mainly towards collectors. Moreover, they are usually sold at significant premiums that exceed their respective spot values. With that said, their higher surface level and visual quality, as well as their lower mintages, validate the strong premiums.
  • A reverse proof displays the fields with a frosted finish while the devices and lettering are fitted with mirror-like surfaces. This proves to be a complete inversion of the average surface qualities that exist with proof coinage of the modern era. While becoming more frequent among contemporary U.S. Mint products, it has not common in the American Gold Eagle lineup, only appearing on the $50 one-ounce gold coin.

Nowadays, American Gold Eagles are coveted assets in the eyes of collectors and investors, both in the U.S. and worldwide. American Gold Eagles are ideal for investors seeking a safe method of wealth preservation and retirement savings. It is possible for these gold bullion coins to be added to IRA retirement accounts as per U.S. law. In essence, American Gold Eagles are representatives of one of the easiest ways that one can invest in gold bullion.

Generally speaking, Gold Eagles are sought-after for precious metals investments, as well as collecting purposes. Collectors can also purchase rare first strike coins verified by either the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

The reason why the American Gold Eagle coin is so popular among investors boils down to its convenience. Investing in gold is seen as a smart move, but beyond that, the coins are small, highly portable, and easy to conceal. Up to 80% of gold bullion in U.S. circulation exists in the form of an American Gold Eagle coin; it is the most traded coin in the world.

American Gold Eagle mintages

The Gold Eagle bullion coins are largely connected to public demand, which means that this demand level determines yearly mintages. The mintage of these gold coins has been carried out on an annual basis since 1986 by the U.S. Mint. During the years when demand and corresponding mintages were considerably lower, the collectible value would subsist for the coins that go beyond their precious metal value.

When it comes to the American Gold Eagle bullion coins, the following stats illustrate the coins’ mintage past:

  • In total, up to 30,257,549 Gold Eagles were produced across all denominations between the timeframe of 1986 to 2009. The total bullion weight of these distributed coins amounts to 16,614,114 ounces of gold.
  • Overall, the most produced denomination of the bunch is the one-ounce coin, which holds a $50 face value. Starting from 1986 and ending in 2009, there have been a total of 13,479,538 one-ounce Gold Eagles that were produced.
  • The denomination that has the least amount of coinage produced is the one-half ounce $25 face value coin, with the distributed total being 2,408,746.
  • The highest mintage individual issue is the one-tenth ounce 1999 Gold Eagle, with its total coming out to 2,750,338.
  • Altogether, the lowest mintage individual distribution is the one-half ounce 1991 Gold Eagle, with a total of 24,100 issued.

In the case of bullion coins, the value of the currently issued coinage and various past ones draws from the value of their gold content. Furthermore, it is based on a premium that differs in accordance with market conditions. The smaller fraction coins (i.e., the 1/4 and 1/10th ounce) carry larger premiums than the two larger ones do.

In the current market that has gold worth over $1,900 per ounce, Gold Eagle bullion and proof coin values share some similarities. Specifically, on the wholesale and retail markets. These include most Proof 70 examples, which ultimately makes the proofs an ideal purchase. This is because they continue to carry remarkably high premiums even when buying current year coins from the Mint.

While the bullion coins are primarily aimed at investors, plenty of people collect sets of these coins. Over time, certain Gold Eagle coins have emerged as key (or semi-key) dates with the American Gold Eagle bullion series. This includes the $25 half-ounce Gold Eagle coin released in 1991, which has the lowest mintage of the series, as mentioned before. The worth of those ungraded are $2,500, and MS70 coins are valued at roughly $8,000; in other words, eight times their gold value.

In regard to burnished gold coins, the lowest mintage is the 2017-W $50 Gold Eagle coin. Up to 5,800 coins were sold for $3,000 today in MS70. The 2008-W $10 Gold Eagle coin with a total of 8,883 coins made is also popular. It brings in $800 raw and $1,500 in MS70.

The 2006-W $50 Reverse Proof Gold Eagle coin, having minted a total of 9,996 coins, has retained a stable premium. This has persisted since its release in the 20th-anniversary three-coin set, which was originally issued for up to $2,600. Today, the set’s worth exceeds $7,000 with the reverse proof coin controlling $3,000 or more.

When it comes to proof coins, the lowest-mintage distributions have gone through numerous changes over time. However, because sales have experienced a downward trend for years (probably due to the rising premiums the Mint charges), there are no major keys nowadays. In the past, specific dates such as the 2012 coins were briefly worth more upon becoming the lowest mintage coins at that time.

However, on November 5 of 2020, the U.S. Mint released the first privy marked Gold Eagle. Donned with a “V75” privy, the coin marks the 75th anniversary of World War II. This coin carries an incredibly low mintage of 1,945 coins, which coincides with the year that the war came to an end. It is not only the lowest proof issue but is also the lowest mintage Gold Eagle to ever exist. Many speculate that it will maintain that status for a long time.

What is an American Gold Eagle worth?

The biggest draw for people to buy American Gold Eagle coins is that they are an agile investment taking on the form of gold. Moreover, for a coin, it is perhaps the best investment. A lot of people are unable to afford a full brick of gold. With a coin that represents an ounce, it is comparatively more affordable and is a familiar monetary asset by all governments.

Gold Eagles’ counterpart, the American Silver Eagle, exists in only one format, one-ounce coins with a one-dollar face value. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, American Gold Eagles are constructed in a total in four sizes and denominations:

  • One-tenth ounce (1/10 oz) with a face value of $5
  • One-quarter ounce (1/4 oz) with a face value of $10
  • One-half ounce (1/2 oz) with a face value of $25
  • One-ounce (1 oz) with a face value of $50

The face values are nominal and do not necessarily parallel the gold content’s value within these coins. Theoretically speaking, these legal-tender components could potentially be spent as money for their face values. However, those who decide to do this will likely experience an enormous monetary loss.

This is particularly true when one takes the current gold spot values of these coins into consideration. At any point since 1986 up to the present day, the melt values have continuously been an array of multiples of the face value of each coin.

Most valuable American Gold Eagle coins by year

Bullion values fluctuate by the moment, as does the value for regular-issue proof American Gold Eagles. However, American Gold Eagle prices are comparatively more stable due largely in part to their lack of dependency on the gold markets. Therefore, it is possible to establish the prices of these coins with less risk that the pricing will be out-of-date.

  • 1999-W $5 Unpolished Proof Die was issued and worth $850
  • 2006-W $5 Burnished was issued and worth $250
  • 2007-W $5 Burnished was issued and worth $250
  • 2008-W $5 Burnished was issued and worth $400
  • 2015-W $5 Narrow Reeds was issued and worth $250
  • 1999-W $10 Unpolished Proof Die was issued and worth $1,800
  • 2006-W $10 Burnished was issued and worth $800
  • 2007-W $10 Burnished was issued and worth $800
  • 2008-W $10 Burnished was issued and worth $1,900
  • 2006-W $25 Burnished was issued and worth $1,000
  • 2007-W $25 Burnished was issued and worth $1,500
  • 2008-W $25 Burnished was issued and worth $1,000
  • 2006-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,200
  • 2006-W $50 Reverse Proof was issued and worth $3,450
  • 2007-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,200
  • 2008-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,600
  • 2011-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,800
  • 2012-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,800
  • 2013-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2014-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,150
  • 2015-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2016-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2017-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2018-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2019-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100
  • 2020-W $50 Burnished was issued and worth $2,100

The tenth-ounce $5 coins are the most widely collected among the American Gold Eagles. These are also, inarguably, the most affordable denomination out of the four. Most collectors who seek out the American Gold Eagles will purchase the burnished, proof, and reverse proof options. There are a good number of numismatists who will opt for the bullion versions, though.

The aforementioned varieties, on the other hand, are typically collected by error-variety specialists. These are people who may not buy gold bullion coinage. However, they believe these rarer varieties to be much more interesting collectibles of the present day.

For collectors and investors alike, American Gold Eagles are a desirable asset. They have a proud history of being coveted valuables and show no signs of ending that tradition anytime soon. 

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