Oakton Coins & Collectibles is open for business. Buying and selling all collectible coins / paper money (U.S. and world), all forms of gold & silver, bullion, estate jewelry, stamps, diamonds, and more.
As a coin shop that buys and sells, we come in contact with a lot of people who have inherited coin collections. No matter the size, you can bring it in for a free verbal appraisal. Often people sell the whole collection. Sometimes, they sell the valuable parts and split up the rest between siblings. Maybe it’s a small collection without a lot of monetary value and you have someone young in your family that would appreciate it.
This is a quick guide to help identify your inherited coins at home….. Cents, Half Dimes & Nickels, Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars, Silver Dollars, US Gold Coins, Early American Medals/Commemorative Coins, and Modern Commemoratives.
Types of United States Gold Coins.
Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coin (1907-1933), Liberty $20 Gold Coin (1850-1907) A double eagle is a gold coin of the United States with a denomination of $20. (Its gold content of 0.9675 troy oz (30.0926 grams) was worth $20 at the 1849 official price of $20.67/oz.) The coins are made from a 90% gold (0.900 fine = 21.6 kt) and 10% copper alloy and have a total weight of 1.0750 troy ounces (33.4362 grams).
The “eagle”, “half eagle”, and “quarter eagle” were specifically given these names in the Act of Congress that originally authorized them (“An act establishing a mint, and regulating coins of the United States”, section 9, April 2, 1792). Likewise, the double eagle was specifically created as such by name in the Coinage Act of 1849 (“An act to authorize the coinage of gold dollars and double eagles”, title and section 1, March 3, 1849). Prior to 1850, eagles with a denomination of $10 were the largest denomination of US coin. The $10 eagles were produced beginning in 1795, just two years after the first U.S. mint opened. Since the $20 gold piece had twice the value of the eagle, these coins were designated “double eagles”.
The first double eagle was minted in 1849, coinciding with the California Gold Rush. In that year, the mint produced two pieces in proof. The first resides in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.. The second was presented to Treasury Secretary William M. Meredith and was later sold as part of his estate—the present location of this coin remains unknown.
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt sought to beautify American coinage, and proposed Augustus Saint-Gaudens as an artist capable of the task. Although the sculptor had poor experiences with the Mint and its chief engraver, Charles E. Barber, Saint-Gaudens accepted Roosevelt’s call. The work was subject to considerable delays, due to Saint-Gaudens’s declining health and difficulties because of the high relief of his design. Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, after designing the eagle and double eagle, but before the designs were finalized for production. The new coin became known as the Saint-Gaudens double eagle.
Regular production continued until 1933, when the official price of gold was changed to $35/oz by the Gold Reserve Act. The 1933 double eagle is among the most valuable of U.S. coins, with the sole example — the King Farouk specimen, which was purchased by King Farouk of Egypt in 1944 — currently known to be in private hands selling in 2002 for $7,590,020. Twelve other specimens exist, two of which are held in the National Numismatic Collection and the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.
Liberty $10 Gold Coin (1838-1907), Indian Head $10 Gold Coin (1907-1933) The eagle was a United States $10 gold coin issued by the United States Mint from 1792 to 1933. The eagle was the largest of the five main decimal base-units of denomination used for circulating coinage in the United States prior to 1933, the year when gold was withdrawn from circulation. These five main base-units of denomination were the mill, the cent, the dime, the dollar, and the eagle, where a cent is 10 mills, a dime is 10 cents, a dollar is 10 dimes, and an eagle is 10 dollars. The eagle base-unit of denomination served as the basis of the quarter eagle ($2.50), half eagle ($5), eagle ($10), and double eagle ($20) coins.
With the exceptions of the gold dollar coin, the gold three-dollar coin, the three-cent nickel, and the five-cent nickel, the unit of denomination of coinage prior to 1933 was conceptually linked to the precious or semi-precious metal that constituted a majority of the alloy used in that coin. In this regard the United States followed long-standing European practice of different base-unit denominations for different precious and semi-precious metals. In the United States, the cent was the base-unit of denomination in copper. The dime and dollar were the base-units of denomination in silver. The eagle was the base-unit of denomination in gold although, unlike “cent”, “dime” (or “disme”), and “dollar”, gold coins never specified their denomination in units of “eagles”. Thus, a double eagle showed its value as “twenty dollars” rather than “two eagles”.
Liberty $5 Gold Coin (1839-1908), Indian Head $5 Gold Coin (1908-1929) The half eagle is a United States coin that was produced for circulation from 1795 to 1929 and in commemorative and bullion coins since the 1980s. Composed almost entirely of gold, it has a face value of five dollars. Its production was authorized by The Act of April 2, 1792, and it was the first gold coin minted by the United States. List of designs…… Turban Head 1795–1807, Draped Bust 1807–1812, Capped Head 1813–1834, Classic Head 1834–1838, Liberty Head (Coronet) 1839–1907, Coronet, without motto 1839–1866, Coronet, with motto 1866–1908, Indian Head 1908–1916, 1929
Liberty Head $2.5 Gold Coin (1840-1907), Indian Head $2.5 Gold Coin (1908-1929) The quarter eagle denomination was struck at the main mint at Philadelphia (1796-1929), and branch mints in Charlotte (1838-1859), New Orleans (1838-1857 only), San Francisco (1854-1879), and Denver (1911-1925). Years were skipped at the various mints, with no coins at all made between 1808 and 1821 and 1915 and 1925. The first issues weighed 67.5 grains, fineness .9167, until the weight was modified to 64.5 grains and the fineness changed to .8992 by the Act of June 28, 1834. The Act of January 18, 1837 established a fineness of .900. This means that 1837 and later quarter eagles contain 0.121 Troy Oz. of gold content.
As relatively fewer coins were struck prior to 1834, combined with their higher gold content (promoting melting for their bullion content), all of the early issues range from scarce to rare. The first issues were struck in 1796. Any proof date prior to 1856 is rare, and will command a premium in any condition. The quarter eagle denomination was officially discontinued in 1933 with the removal of the United States from the Gold Standard, although the last date of issue was 1929.