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U.S. Five Dollar Gold Coins

★★★★★ Draped Bust (Right) ★★★★★

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1795 HALF EAGLE coin Type 1, Small Eagle - Obverse 1795 HALF EAGLE coin Type 1, Small Eagle - Rerverse

Type 1 Small Eagle
(1795 1798)

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1795 Half Eagle coin Type 2, Heraldic Eagle - Obverse 1795 Half Eagle coin Type 2, Heraldic Eagle - Reverse

Type 2 Heraldic Eagle
(1797 1807)

In June of 1795, Henry DeSaussure replaced David Rittenhouse as Mint Director. His first goal was to begin striking gold coins and improve the current coin designs. Under Rittenhouse’s orders, Chief Engraver Robert Scot had already prepared dies, and on July 31, 1795, 744 half eagles were struck and delivered. They were first gold coins ever produced by the United States Mint.

The 1795 Small Eagle half eagles were struck first followed by the 1795 Large Eagle (or Heraldic Eagle) later in the year. However, a return to the Small Eagle reverse for a few pieces in 1798 indicated the demand for serviceable dies. This would explain why the small Eagle design remained on the $10 Gold Eagle through 1797.

The model for the Capped Bust to Right, Small Eagle design is unknown. Walter Breen, says that Scott's model was, " copied some unlocated contemporaneous engraving of a Roman copy of a Hellenistic goddess, altering the hair, adding drapery and an oversize soft cap." Breen also described the reverse small eagle as from: "a sketch or engraving of a first-century A.D. Roman onyx cameo".

The Type 1 obverse featured a portrait of Liberty in a soft cap, the reverse was adapted from an Roman cameo and depicted a naturalistic small eagle perched on a branch. However, the small eagle immediately proved to be unpopular, it was characterized by many as too scrawny. So, Scot set out to appease the critics and improve the design, and his resulting Heraldic eagle reverse was based on the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States.

Since only 18,512 Type 1 Small Eagle fives were produced from 1795 through 1798 their scarcity is understandable, however, most of these coins were victims of the huge melts that later destroyed most of the U.S. gold coinage that was minted before 1834. Remaining specimens after the melts are particularly rare, especially in high grade.

Half eagles struck in 1797 are of two types: either 15 or 16 stars are on the obverse. Both are rare, with the 15-star variety somewhat more elusive. The 16th star was added after Tennessee was admitted to the Union. An emergency issue of half eagles were struck in December 1797 following the yellow fever epidemic of that summer. In the rush to resume production, all available dies were put into service. It is believe that a similar epidemic and mint closing in 1798 was responsible for the puzzling 1795 date with a Heraldic Eagle five dollar.

The estimated population of the 1795 issue is about 520 examples and none bore their denominations. But the 1795 issues were created from 12 different die pairings.

Click to view 1802/1801 example.


Draped Bust "Half Eagle" Specs.

Designer: Robert Scot
Diameter: 25 millimeters
Weight: 8.748 grams
Content: 91.7% gold 8.3% silver and copper
Edge: Reeded
Draped Bust "Half Eagle" Mintage

Date/MintCirculation Strikes
Type 1 Small Eagle
Type 2 Large Eagle
1797 & 179824,867

Draped Bust (Small Eagle) Half Eagle Grading

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Draped Bust (Large Eagle) Half Eagle Grading

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Capped Bust Left Half Eagle - 1807 - 1834

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1807 Gold $5 coin Type 1, Capped Bust, Large Bust - Obverse 1807 Gold $5 coin Type 1, Capped Bust, Large Bust - Reverse

Type 1 Capped Bust
(1807 - 1813)

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1813 $5 Gold coin Type 2, Capped Bust, Small Bust, Large Date - Obverse 1813 $5 Gold coin Type 2, Capped Bust, Small Bust, Large Date - Reverse

Type 2 Capped Head
Large Date 1813 - 1828

The early years of the United States Mint had many problems: The equipment was crude, serviceable die steel was difficult to obtain and steam power was not available to operate the mint machinery. Even with all of these problems, the largest problem was a lack of experienced personnel, especially in design and engraving.

The old Robert Scot capped bust facing left was replaced when John Reich was employed as assistant engraver at the mint. The large, loose-fitting cap (some called it a "turban") was replaced by a smaller cap on liberty. The Heraldic Eagle was also replaced with an upright eagle whose wings are spread outwards.

The half eagle was the only U.S. gold coin produced in 1813. There are two reasons that may be responsible for this: First, bankers were the ones who brought gold to the Mint for coinage came generally from banks. Bankers seemed to prefer half eagles for use as reserves and for international commerce. Second, the United States had a fixed silver-to-gold ratio which put the U.S. at a disadvantage with the international ratios of the two metals (it took less silver to buy an ounce of gold in the U.S. than it did in Europe).

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1830 $5 Gold coin Type 3, Capped Bust, Small Date - Obverse 1830 $5 Gold coin Type 3, Capped Bust, Small Date - Reverse

Type 3 Capped Head
Small Date 1829 - 1834

Ever since the 16th-century Central and South America have been continuously drained of precious metals. In the early part of the 19th century, huge new discoveries of silver were made in North and South America. This caused a drop in the worldwide price of silver in relation to gold. The bi-metallic standard adopted in the United States under the Coinage Act of 1792 set the ratio between the metals at 15:1, in 1813, the ratio in Europe was 16:1 and sometimes more.

Many merchants and sailors who made regular voyages from America to Europe and back found it quite profitable to buy gold in America with silver, and take the gold to Europe and sell it for silver. In Europe the gold was melted down for bullion. This may explain why so many ship wrecks of that period have large amounts of gold or silver on them, depending on which direction they were going at the time.

This trading cycle continued until gold nearly disappeared from circulation in the U.S. As a result, in spite of high mintage numbers, most half eagles ended up as bullion.

Census/population reports estimate the 1813 business strike at 120 examples. Many dates are estimated at fewer than 20 examples. The 1822 half eagle with three know examples is considered one of the rarest U.S. coins of all (two of the three are permanently housed in the Smithsonian Institution). Thus, they have been described as the "greatest rarities in American numismatics", "impressive for its rarity", and "the most difficult of all half-eagle designs to obtain."


Capped Bust Left Half Eagle Specs.

Designer: John Reich
Diameter:± 25 millimeters
Weight: 8.748 grams
Edge: Reeded
Content: 91.7% gold 8.3% silver and copper
Mint Mark Location: None (All were struck in Philadelphia)
Capped Bust Left Half Eagle Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
Capped Bust
1807 51,605
1808 55,578
1809/8 33,875
1810 100,287
1811 99,581
1812 58,087
Capped Head Large Date
1813 95,428
1814/3 15,454
1815 635
1818 48,588
1819 51,723
1820 263,806
1821 34,641
1822 17,796
1823 14,485
1824 17,340
1825 29,060
1826 18,069
1827 24,913
1828 28,029
Capped Head Small Date
1829 57,442
1830 126,351
1831 140,594
1832 157,487
1833 193,630
1834 50,141

Capped Bust Half Eagle Grading

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Capped Head Half Eagle Grading

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Classic Head $5 Half Eagle 1834 - 1838

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1834 CLASSIC HEAD $5 Gold coin - Obverse 1834 CLASSIC HEAD $5 Gold coin - Reverse

Classic Head Half Eagle
(1834 1838)

The Classic Head half eagle was produced in response to a problem in the early 1830s: circulating gold coins didn't actually circulate. U.S. gold coins became a commodity, worth more than their face value in European silver, and thousands were exported and melted. The 1834 Mint Act resolved the problem by reducing the gold content, thus making it unprofitable to melt U.S. gold coins.

To make the coins with the new weight easily visible, William Kneass was assigned the task of redesigning the half Eagle. The redesign was actually a reintroduction of the 1808 Classic Head cent design. This gave her a younger, classical appearance. The reverse remained basically the same, but with banner and E PLURIBUS UNUM removed.


Classic Head Half Eagle Specs.

Designer: William Kneass
Weight: 8.24 grams
Diameter: 23.8 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Mint Mark Location: Above the date on the obverse.
Classic Head Half Eagle Mintage

Date/MintCirculation Strikes

Classic Head Half Eagle Grading

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Liberty Coronet Half Eagle 1839 - 1908

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1839 Liberty Head Half Eagle coin Type 1, No Motto - Obverse 1839 Liberty Head Half Eagle coin Type 1, No Motto - Reverse

Type 1 No Motto

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1866 Liberty Head Half Eagle coin Type 2, With Motto - Obverse 1866 Liberty Head Half Eagle coin Type 2, With Motto - Reverse

Type 2 With Motto

In constant use since the early days of the Republic, the gold half eagle was vary familiar in American economic and social life. It was and was one of the longest continually minted coin denomination in United States history. Half eagles would see virtually continuous production from 1795 to 1929, and throughout their life, they would be used in trade in preference to almost other gold coins.

In 1839 Christian Gobrecht redesigned what is now known as the Liberty Head or Coronet Head Half Eagle. In his redesign, little was changed to the reverse, with the notable exception of 5 D. was changed to Five D.. On the obverse Liberty retains her classic appearance facing left, hair bundled with a beaded tie, and two locks of hair cascading down the neck, and her coronet bearing LIBERTY above the forehead.

The weight of the redesign was 8.359 grams, but the diameter was reduced to 21.6 mm, in 1840. Half Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint were .900 gold and .100 copper. However, coins struck at Charlotte and Dahlonega had a high natural silver content (.050 silver).

In 1854 the San Francisco Mint struck 268 Half Eagles. This issue became the rarest of the issue with only three known today, two of which are in the Smithsonian.

This design was used for nearly 70 years with a modest change in 1866, "In God We Trust" was once again placed on the reverse.

This coin holds the distinction of being the only coin of a single design to be minted at seven U.S. Mints: Philadelphia, Dahlonega, Charlotte, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, and Denver.

All pieces are scarce from the (civil war) years 1862 through 1866.


Type 1 Liberty Head No Motto Specs.

Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Content: 90% gold 10% other
Until mid-1840 Diameter: 22.5 millimeters
After mid-1840 Diameter: 21.65 millimeters
Weight: 8.24 grams
Edge: Reeded
Mint Mark Legend 1839: Below the date on the obverse.
Mint Mark Legend 1840-1908: Below the eagle on the reverse

Type 2 Liberty Head With Motto Specs.

Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Liberty Head Half Eagle Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
Type 1 No Motto
1839118,143 1839-C17,205 1839-D18,939
1840137,382 1840-C18,992 1840-D22,896 1840-O40,120
reduced size to 21.65 mm mid 1840
184115,833 1841-C21,467 1841-D29,392 1841-O50
184227,578 1842-C27,432 1842-D59,608 1842-O16,400
1843611,205 1843-C44,277 1843-D98,452 1843-O101,075
1844340,330 1844-C23,631 1844-D88,982 1844-O364,600
1845417,099 1845-D90,629 1845-O41,000
1846395,942 1846-C12,995 1846-D80,294 1846-O58,000
1847915,981 1847-C84,151 1847-D64,405 1847-O12,000
1848260,775 1848-C4,472 1848-D47,465
1849133,070 1849-C64,823 1849-D39,036
185064,491 1850-C63,591 1850-D43,984
1851377,505 1851-C49,176 1851-D62,710 1851-O41,000
1852573,901 1852-C72,574 1852-D91,584
1853305,770 1853-C65,571 1853-D89,678
1854160,675 1854-C39,283 1854-D56,413 1854-O46,000
1855117,098 1855-C39,788 1855-D22,432 1855-O11,100
1856197,990 1856-C28,457 1856-D19,786 1856-O10,000
185798,188 1857-C31,360 1857-D17,046 1857-O13,000
185815,136 1858-C38,856 1858-D15,362
185916,734 1859-C31,847 1859-D10,366
186019,763 1860-C14,813 1860-D14,635
1861688,084 1861-C6,879 1861-D1,597
Civil War - end of "C", "D" & "O" Mints
18624,430 1862-S9,500
18632,442 1863-S17,000
18644,170 1864-S3,888
18651,270 1865-S27,612
1866-S 9,000

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
Type 2 With Motto
18666,700 1866-S34,920
18676,870 1867-S29,000
18685,700 1868-S52,000
18691,760 1869-S31,000
18704,000 1870-S17,000 1870-CC7,675
18713,200 1871-S25,000 1871-CC20,770
18721,660 1872-S36,400 1872-CC16,980
1873112,480 1873-S31,000 1873-CC7,416
18743,488 1874-S16,000 1874-CC21,198
1875200 1875-S9,000 1875-CC11,828
18761,432 1876-S4,000 1876-CC6,887
18771,132 1877-S26,700 1877-CC8,680
1878131,720 1878-S144,700 1878-CC9,054
1879301,920 1879-S426,200 1879-CC17,281
18803,166,400 1880-S1,348,900 1880-CC51,017
18815,708,760 1881-S969,000 1881-CC13,886
18822,514,520 1882-S969,000 1882-CC82,817
1883233,400 1883-S83,200 1883-CC12,958
1884191,030 1884-S177,000 1884-CC16,402
1885601,440 1885-S1,211,500
1886388,360 1886-S3,268,000
18870 1887-S1,912,000
188818,201 1888-S293,900
18904,240 1890-CC53,800
189161,360 1891-CC208,000
"O" New Orleans Mint back on line
1892753,480 1892-S298,400 1892-CC82,968
18931,528,120 1893-S224,000 1893-CC60,000
1894957,880 1894-S55,900
18951,345,855 1895-S112,000
189658,960 1896-S155,400
1897867,800 1897-S354,000
1898633,420 1898-S1,397,400
18991,710,630 1899-S1,545,000
19001,405,500 1900-S329,000
1901615,900 1901-S3,648,000
1902172,400 1902-S939,000
1903226,870 1903-S1,855,000
1904392,000 1904-S97,000
1905302,200 1905-S880,700
"D" Denver Mint on line
1906348,735 1906-D320,000 1906-S598,000
1907626,100 1907-D888,000

Liberty Head Half Eagle Grading

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Indian Head $5 Half Eagle 1908-1929

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1908 Indian Head Half Eagle coin - Obverse 1908 Indian Head Half Eagle coin - Reverse

Indian Head Half Eagle
(1908 1929)

Dr. William Sturgis Bigelow, a physician, close friend of President Roosevelt, art collector from Boston and an admirer of Egyptian reliefs convinced President Roosevelt that the use of sunken designs on American Coins was a good idea. Since the Liberty Head quarter eagle had been minted since 1840 and the Liberty Head half eagle since 1839, they seemed good candidates for redesign.

Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, so Bigelow apparently contacted and persuaded Bela Lyon Pratt, a fellow Bostonian and former student of Saint-Gaudens to create a design for the gold coins. Pratt used Smillie's portrait of a Sioux Chief on the 1899 $5 silver certificate. The reverse displayed a standing eagle which was a virtual copy of the design Saint-Gaudens had used on both a Roosevelt inaugural medal and the Indian Head eagle.

In 1908 the Indian Head half eagle was first appearance minted it was the same design as the quarter eagle (or $2.50 gold piece). The Indian Head half eagle had several things in common with the Buffalo nickels, they were approximately the same size and both had realistic looking American Indians. The new Indian Head gold pieces, however, were unlike any other coins produced before or since in several respects. Their designs and inscriptions are sunken below the surface of the coins, instead of being raised.

This innovative technique had never been used for coins before. But, new ideas were always welcome in national affairs in the early 20th century, primarily because of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt took a personal interest in nearly all aspects of government including the nation's coinage and left his stamp on coins and many other areas.

In spite of the fact that the sunken design (with devices and legends below the fields) promised to reduce wear on the features, Philadelphia coin dealer Samuel H. Chapman and others vigorously opposed the design. Their argument was that the recessed areas would collect dirt and thus become a disease source. Still others found fault with both the portrait and the eagle. They also claimed that the coins were easy to counterfeited. Some even argued the (rimless and flat) coins would not stack properly. They did not sway the President, and the new design was implemented.

Click to view mint mark example.

Note: All 1915-D are counterfeit


Indian Head Half Eagle Specs.

Designer: Bela Lyon Pratt
Content: 90% gold 10% copper
Diameter: 21.6 millimeters
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 8.24 grams
Mint Mark Location: Left of the arrowheads on the reverse.
Indian Head Half Eagle Mintage

Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes Date/Mint Circulation Strikes
1908577,845 1908-D148,000 1908-S82,000
1909627,060 1909-D3,423,560 1909-S297,200
1910604,000 1910-D193,600 1910-S770,200
1911915,000 1911-D72,500 1911-S1,416,000
1912790,000 1912-S392,000
1913915,901 1913-S408,000
1914247,000 1914-D247,000 1914-S263,000
1915588,000 1915-S164,000

Indian Head Half Eagle Grading

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While five dollar gold coins are available in recent year, they are considered BULLION COINS and are therefore not included.