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Buying Gold Eagle Coins

When people around the globe think of animals that are symbolic of the United States of America, one of the most popular images that comes to mind is that of the bald eagle. The bird was first chosen as a national symbol by American Congress shortly after the country was founded; in 1792. Early American leaders chose the bald eagle as an emblem for the nation because of the bird’s symbolism, which includes the ideals of majesty, longevity, and power.

The bald eagle has been included in the design of more coins in U.S. history than any other image, including its use on the American Gold Eagle coin. Next to the bald eagle in terms of popular images is Lady Liberty, who has also been featured on American Gold Eagle coins since their conception in the 1980s. Read on to learn more about the world’s most popular gold coin, including its history, pricing and the best places to buy them.

A Short History of the American Gold Eagle

If you really want to learn all about the lengthy and detailed history of the American Gold Eagle Coin, there are a plethora of places to find it. For the sake of this page, we’ll just be giving a very brief description so we don’t bore you to death…

The American Gold Eagle coin was authorized by an act of US Congress in 1985, over 200 years after our nation was founded. The Gold Bullion Act of 1985 established the groundwork for the production of a gold bullion coin using gold mined only from locations in the United States. The first American Gold Eagles were released in 1986 and production of the coins continues each year to this day.

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

American Gold Eagle Coin Types

American Gold Eagle coins have been minted in three different production cycles since the first coins were released in 1986. Following approval of the Gold Bullion Act of 1985, the US Mint produced the gold eagles in both bullion and proof production runs. Bullion and proof American Gold Eagles remain in production today (1986-present).

Beginning in 2006, the US Mint introduced a third production type when it began minting uncirculated coins. The uncirculated and proof coins are made specifically for coin collectors, while the bullion variations are made for investors but are still somewhat collectible. Like the bullion and proof coins, the uncirculated coins remain in production today as well (2006-present).

American Gold Eagle Coin Specifications

The Gold Bullion Act of 1985 lays out the specifications for minting all American Gold Eagle coins, which the US Mint follows each year. In addition to the mandate which requires these coins to be minted using only gold mined in the US, the metal content of these coins must also consist of a small amount of silver and copper. Regardless of its size and weight, each American Gold Eagle contains 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper.

The addition of silver and copper to each coin ensures that they are more resistant to deterioration. It also makes them slightly more sturdy, and they do not dent as easily as other popular coins such as the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf which is made up of .9999 fine gold.

Gold Eagle Sizes

The purity of each American Gold Eagle coin remains the same across all sizes. Gold Eagles are minted in four different weights: 1/10 troy ounce, 1/4 troy ounce, 1/2 troy ounce, and 1 troy ounce. These sizes have been offered by the mint each year since production started. The specifications of each coin are found below:

  • 1/10 Troy Ounce ($5 Face Value)
    • Total Weight:  0.109167 troy oz
    • Pure Gold Weight: 1/10 troy oz
    • Metal Purity: 91.67% gold, 3% silver, 5.33% copper
    • Diameter: 16.50 mm
    • Thickness: 1.19 mm
  • 1/4 Troy Ounce ($10 Face Value)
    • Total Weight: 0.2729175 troy oz
    • Pure Gold Weight: 1/4 troy oz
    • Metal Purity: 91.67% gold, 3% silver, 5.33% copper
    • Diameter: 22 mm
    • Thickness: 1.83 mm
  • 1/2 Troy Ounce ($25 Face Value)
    • Total Weight: 0.545835 troy oz
    • Pure Gold Weight: 1/2 troy oz
    • Metal Purity: 91.67% gold, 3% silver, 5.33% copper
    • Diameter: 27 mm
    • Thickness: 2.24 mm
  • 1 Troy Ounce ($50 Face Value)
    • Total Weight: 1.09167 troy oz
    • Pure Gold Weight: 1 troy oz
    • Metal Purity: 91.67% gold, 3% silver, 5.33% copper
    • Diameter: 32.7 mm
    • Thickness: 2.87 mm

From its introduction in 1986 to the current production year, the size and weight options of the American Gold Eagles have not been changed. No new sizes have been added, and none of the original weights have been removed from production. There have also been no major changes to the design of the American Gold Eagle since it was created. The only change made to the coins came with the dates, which we’ll go over below.

Date Stamp Variations and Mint Locations

Coins produced between 1986 and 1991 include an engraving of the date that is done with Roman Numerals. Starting in 1992, the US Mint switched to Arabic numbers for date engravings and continues that production style through to today. That is the only design change to have ever been implemented on the coin, making some of the older coins slightly more collectible.


Today, nearly all coins in the series; bullion, proof, and uncirculated, are produced at the US Mint’s West Point Mint in New York. The West Point Mint was constructed in 1937 as a silver bullion depository near the famous US Military Academy. Since 1988, the West Point Mint has been an official branch of the US Mint. Many American Gold Eagles featured a “W” mint mark to indicate their production at the West Point Mint facility.

American Gold Eagle Coin Design

The obverse side of this coin brought one of the nation’s most famous designs back to minting. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a famous artist and sculptor, first designed the full-length image of Lady Liberty in 1905. Her image graced the beloved $20 Lady Liberty gold coin minted between 1908 and 1933. In the image, Saint-Gaudens’ Lady Liberty is seen walking toward the viewer with the setting sun at her back. In her right hand is a torch, providing a guiding light. In her left hand, she holds an olive branch as a symbol of peace.


Augustus Saint Gaudens’ original design was chosen for the American Gold Eagle due to its popularity. It is among the most beloved and collected US coin designs in the nations history, so it is only suiting that the US Mint chose to honor it on the bullion coin series.

Unlike the original $20 Lady Liberty coins, the American Gold Eagle image of Lady Liberty is surrounded by 50 stars, representing all of the nation’s states. This is one of the only changes made to the design for use on the Gold Eagle. An engraving of the word “Liberty” is included above her head. On the reverse side of the coin, the image of two eagles is featured. Miley Busiek, an American sculptor, designed the image specifically for the American Gold Eagle coin.


Busiek’s image includes a male eagle returning to his nest with an olive branch in his talons. Inside the nest, a female eagle is perched and standing guard over its eaglets. The reverse side of the coin features numerous engravings, including “United States of America” above, the weight, purity & face value of the coin below, “E Pluribus Unum” to the left, and “In God We Trust” on the right of the image.

Buying American Gold Eagles

The American Gold Eagle coins are among the most popular investment vehicles when it comes to owning physical gold bullion. Because of this they are one of the easiest coins to find on the open market both online at locally. Not only are they traded in the United States, but they are also sought out by investors the world over, including many gold investors in Europe, Asia, India and elsewhere. Below we’ll go over every aspect of buying the gold eagle coin.

Face Value vs Gold Content Value

American Gold Eagle bullion coins carry face values (monetary value) as mentioned above and, as legal tender, are valued as currency based upon those assigned monetary figures rather than the gold content of the coin. This applies to coins when they are used as legal tender to settle all debts, public and private. That said, you cannot buy them at face value, and will pay a premium based on the current price of gold calculated by the gold content of each coin.

For collectors, however, the proof and uncirculated coins (in particular) are priced more for their intrinsic/collectible value and are often sold based upon the current price of gold on the precious metals market plus a hefty premium above that price. When shopping for these coins (both collectibles and bullion variations) with a precious metal retailer, consumers can expect to pay a price that is based upon the current precious metal price and not the face value of the coin.

Bullion coins are produced in large batches, making it easy to find them when shopping online. The proof and uncirculated American Gold Eagles, are popular among both those purchasing the coins as part of a collection as well as those looking to diversify their investment portfolio with gold.

Where To Buy The American Gold Eagle

Although the American Gold Eagle is one of the most popular gold coins in the world, that doesn’t mean it is easy to buy everywhere. While there are brick-and-mortar retailers, the best place to shop for these coins is online. Precious metal retailers sell both proof and uncirculated versions of the American Gold Eagle online. Reviews of some of the most popular gold bullion dealers are listed below:

Buying Gold Eagles Online

When you are shopping online for the American Gold Eagle, there are many steps you can take to make the best selection. First off, you should do your due-diligence to find at least 2-3 dealers you feel comfortable doing business with. Beyond that, it is never a bad idea to shop around before pulling the trigger to find the lowest price for the coin you are seeking. In this way, you will avoid being ripped off or preyed upon by unreputable dealers. Each of the gold dealers listed on our site have been researched thoroughly and we feel confident recommending them on our website.

Selling American Gold Eagles

If you decide to sell your American Gold Eagles later on, you will be pleased to know that it is extremely easy. The Gold Eagle is among the most heavily traded gold bullion coin in the world, making it highly liquid and easy to sell or trade. When you decide to sell there are several factors that will go into determining the value to a buyer.

Coin Condition & Price

Condition is one of the most important aspects in regards to the value of any American Gold Eagle Coin. If the coin is scratched up, blemished, nicked or otherwise not pristine, the price will be less than a coin that is in perfect condition. For a coin that is in bad shape, you can sometimes receive less than the spot price of gold for it. If a coin is in excellent shape, you will likely be able to get at least spot price, if not above spot for it. It will also depend on where you are selling it, and demand for the coins during that point in time.

Coins that are certified by a recognized coin grading company will receive above spot price based on collector demand, minting numbers for that year/edition and other key factors. These types of coins are looked at more as collector items than bullion investments, and their pricing reflects that.

Needless to say, whatever your motive is for purchasing the American Gold Eagle Coin, you will more than likely be able to sell it. You can do so at many online gold dealer websites as well as locally in a coin shop or local cash for gold business. Before doing so, be sure to do your homework to avoid getting ripped off. This will include researching the day’s gold spot price, London Fix price and the going rate for other coins in similar condition to yours.