Pre-1933 Gold Coins
U.S. Coins and Jewelry is one of the nation’s largest dealers in U.S. gold coins.
Pre-1933 U.S. gold coins are not only historically significant, they are extremely collectible as well as highly sought after works of art.
The history of pre-1933 US gold coins date all the way back to the end of the 18th century. The Coinage Act of 1792 was the legislation that first sanctioned the production of U.S. coinage. However, production of gold coins really began with the half eagle ($5) and eagle ($10) in 1795. Throughout the early history of the United States, Gold coins served as currency until their confiscation in the early 1930s.
In 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (using the “Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917”) issued an executive order requiring that all persons in possession or control of gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates (i.e. paper currency redeemable in gold coin of the United States) must turn them into any federal reserve bank or any “member bank” of the Federal Reserve System. This order made it illegal for American citizens to hold monetary gold. Gold coins were then melted and cast into Gold bars. This federal government recall and meltdown made the previously common gold coins very rare.
In fact, estimates have less than 1% of these Pre-1933 gold coins surviving. This single act from Roosevelt alone makes it extremely hard to believe that so many of the rare pre-1933 gold US coins are still on the market today. It has also made pre-1993 gold coins some of the most desirable items among collectors and investors alike.
Learn more about Pre-1933 Gold by watching our video.
All U.S. gold coins minted before 1933 are individually valued based on date, rarity, appeal among collectors, and state of preservation - known as grade. Please feel free to contact one of U.S. Coins and Jewelry team members or fill out our contact form, and we will be happy to help you start or expand your portfolio.
Buying & Selling Pre-1933 US Gold Coins
Minted by the United States government prior to 1933, these coins offer investors the opportunity to gain exposure to both physical gold as well as coin collecting. Pre-1933 U.S. minted gold coins were struck in .900 purity and are available today in both graded and raw form with many size options, designs, and grades to choose from. NGC and PCGS certified coins are available in mint-state grades while ungraded coins are also available in varying conditions. Depending on the scarcity and condition of the coin, pre-1933 gold coins often fetch higher premiums over the gold spot price than similarly sized gold bullion.
Being that there are a variety of pre-1933 US coins in existence, the designs of them vary quite drastically from coin to coin. With that said, the fact that many of these coins were produced during the same time period means that as much as their designs are different, they are similar in a lot of ways as well. The three designs that describe a majority of U.S. gold coins minted prior to 1933 include the Liberty Head, Indian Head, and St. Gaudens designs.
The designs of these pre-1933 gold coins are all impressive, but investors are most likely more concerned with how much gold is present in them. Every pre-1933 gold coin is comprised of 90% gold. The other 10% is made up of filler metal, most often copper added to increase the strength and durability of the coin.
At the time of their minting, the gold content of these spectacular coins was closely in line with the coin’s intrinsic worth. Today, the legal value is dwarfed by how much the gold content alone would fetch on the open market. The California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and early 1850s kicked the production of gold U.S. coins into overdrive as the U.S. Mint was provided with a heavy surplus of gold from the scores of mines popping up all over the western United States.
Throughout the duration of the 19th century up until the early parts of the 20th century, gold coins were minted continuously and often in large quantities. As the financial woes of the Great Depression began to more readily grip the United States and the world, President Roosevelt decreed that the ownership of physical gold was now illegal for US citizens. Beginning in 1933 and lasting through the next few years, it was mandated that all US gold coins be returned to the US Treasury. It was at this point when the US Treasury made the executive decision to melt down a majority of the coins to make gold bars. This occurrence alone makes it extremely hard to believe that so many pre-1933 gold US coins are still on the market today.
Pre-1933 Gold Coins Available
$20 Liberty Head Gold Coins
The $20 Liberty double eagle is a highly recognized gold coin. As coins of trade, they were a workhorse in expanding U.S. financial markets in the 19th Century. These historic coins of heft have always been among our favorite portfolio builders.
The classic profile of Miss Liberty is featured on the obverse and the bold heraldic Eagle on the reverse, inspiring symbols of America’s emergence as a mature world power during this exciting period in our nation’s history.
$10 Liberty Head Gold Coins
Minted from 1866 to 1907 These classic U.S. gold eagles make an excellent gold portfolio builder. The world-famous profile of Miss Liberty is featured on the obverse and the heraldic American Eagle on the reverse. These are beautiful, heirloom-quality works of art that you can proudly add to your collection.
$5 Liberty Gold Coins
The $5 Liberty is the only coin in U.S. history to be produced at all seven federal mints. Prior to 1838, all Half Eagles were struck at the Philadelphia Mint. Like the Quarter Eagle, the design, composition, and weight of the Half Eagle changed many times throughout its production. Beginning in 1837 and until the Half Eagle was discontinued in 1929, it was struck from .900-fine gold. In 1908 the Liberty design was replaced with the Indian Head design.
$5 Indian Head Gold Half Eagle
The $5 Indian Head is among the most unique pre-1933 U.S. gold coins. It features an incused design, with the lettering and fine detail of the Indian head sunken into the surface of the gold. The intended purpose of the incused design was to create a durable gold coin that would stand up to the wear of being in general circulation. Consequently, the $5 Indian head is among the most well-preserved gold coins of its era. Minted from 1908 to 1929, each $5 Indian head contains .2419 troy ounces of .900-fine gold. The obverse features the image of an Indian in a feather headdress, while the reverse includes a standing eagle. The recessed incused design feature of the $5 Indian head makes it one of the most unique gold coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint.
$10 Indian Head Eagle
First struck in 1907, the $10 Indian Head was minted through 1933, when the U.S. Government effectively confiscated all gold coins in circulation under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order. Highly regarded sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt to create the design. The obverse of the $10 Indian Head features a personification of Liberty wearing a traditional Indian head-dress, while the reverse shows an American eagle majestically perched upon a cache of arrows. One noteworthy attribute of the Indian Head eagle gold coin is the stars on the coin’s edge, one for each state in the union (46 from 1907-11, 48 after 1912).