What is an American Gold Eagle Coin?

American Gold Eagle coin

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If you’re considering investing in high-value coins, you might wonder, “What is an American Gold Eagle coin?”

An American Gold Eagle coin is a type of U.S. currency known for its comparatively high gold content and value. The U.S. has produced gold-based Eagle coins since 1792, but they’ve changed significantly since that time.

They’re now called American Eagle gold bullion coins.

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What are American Gold Eagles?

There are two types of American Eagle coins made of gold:

  • Those made between 1792 and 1933, and
  • Those made from 1986 onwards

I’ll be focusing on the latter type, as they’re far easier to find and invest in than antique United States gold coins. 

The U.S. Mint began producing American Gold Eagle coins in 1986, and they were never meant for circulation. Instead, the Gold Eagle was designed as a collectible and an investment, making it far rarer than the half-dollar and one-dollar coin.

The American Gold Eagle comes in four different types:

  • $5 (1/10oz)
  • $10 (1/4oz)
  • $25 (1/2oz)
  • $50 (1oz)

Because each type of coin contains a different amount of gold, their values vary significantly. But American Gold Eagle coins are primarily made of, you guessed it, gold!

This means their inherent value far exceeds the base value of most copper, nickel, or even silver coins.

How Much Are American Gold Eagle Coins Worth?

American Gold Eagle coins are some of the most valuable gold coins ever produced by the U.S. Mint. 

For example, a 1933 Double Eagle coin sold for an astounding $18.9 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2021.

That’s almost $4 million more than its estimated maximum sales price! However, the American Gold Eagle coins I’ll be discussing today are more modern and much less rare, making them less valuable than United States Eagle coins released for circulation as legal tender. 

That said, Gold Eagles aren’t cheap, especially those with higher face values of $25 or $50.

The 1 oz gold coins produced from 1986 onwards (also called $50 American Gold Eagles) have the greatest face value and contain the largest amount of gold of all modern American Gold Eagle coins (1.09 troy ounces).

These $50 American Gold Eagle coins are typically valued at between $1,700 and $14,000. Values vary depending on the coin’s age, rarity, and condition (grade). 

But, of course, the 1oz coins aren’t the only kinds of American Gold Eagles available. Refer to the chart below for a quick snapshot of how these coins vary in terms of value.

Face Value (Ounce Size)Estimated Value
$5 (1/10)$100 to $210
$10 (¼)$600 to $900
$25 (½)$1,000 to $12,600
$50 (1)$1,700 to $14,000

American Gold Eagle Coins: An Overview

Long before the advent of fiat currency (currency backed by governments), governments and financial institutions used precious metals to create and give value to their currencies.

This is true for almost every civilization that has ever existed, from the Mesopotamian shekel to the first United States coins ever minted. 

Some of the highest-value coins created for circulation in the early United States were called $10 Eagles.

The U.S. Mint produced this gold coinage until 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave Executive Order 6102.

This order officially ended U.S. production of these historical assets, and it wouldn’t be until the Gold Bullion Act of 1985 that the U.S. Mint would finally begin producing them again.

These new coins would retain much of the same qualities as their previous iterations, including design elements like the iconic Augustus Saint-Gaudens Lady Liberty.

But these Gold Eagles also featured some updates. For example, the modern American Gold Eagle coins would enjoy improved standardization, especially in terms of size and gold content.

This change makes it easier for collectors and investors to select high-value coins, regardless of the production year!

American Gold Eagle Coin Sizes

The size of the gold coin in question varies depending on its face value. Refer to the chart below for a quick breakdown of the differing sizes of this coin.

Face ValueDiameterTroy Ounces (Gold)
$516.5mm0.11
$1022mm0.27
$2527mm0.55
$5032.7mm1.09

Pros & Cons

American Gold Eagles coins are worth far more than their listed face values. For this reason, they could be excellent investments. 

However, no asset is entirely without potential drawbacks, so it’s crucial to consider the pros and cons of investing in American Gold Eagles.

Pros

  • Low risk. American Gold Eagle coins may not be made of pure gold, but they contain enough of the precious metal to make them low-risk investments. The price of gold changes daily, but it’s guaranteed to appreciate over time, making Gold Eagles an excellent addition to your investment portfolio.
  • Uncomplicated. Trading stocks and investing in high-return bonds requires research and a firm understanding of how the stock market works. Buying American Gold Eagle coins is a more straightforward way to invest in appreciable assets.
  • Physicality. Unlike other popular investments and assets, you can touch Gold Eagle coins! The physical nature of the Gold Eagle coin makes them immune to cyberattacks and digital theft.
  • Immune to inflation. You could spend the whole of your working life putting aside money for retirement, only for inflation to decrease the value of those savings. American Gold Eagle coins are immune to inflation, retaining their value or becoming more valuable with time.

Cons

  • Initial expense. The initial cost of American Gold Eagle coins can be prohibitive, especially for those interested in investing in $50 (1oz) coins. The starting price for a $50 Gold Eagle is typically well over $1,000.
  • Doesn’t generate immediate profit. Unlike stocks and bonds, American Gold Eagle coins don’t generate profits. While they appreciate over time, you’d need to sell them to make them a profitable asset.
  • Appreciates over time. If you’re planning on retiring soon, American Gold Eagle coins might not be the best choice for your IRA. After all, it typically takes several years or decades for gold coins to increase in value.

Are American Gold Eagles a Good Investment?

American Gold Eagle coins are a fantastic investment, as they contain one of the most appreciable precious metals on the planet—gold.

Besides, unlike older U.S. gold coins (like the Double Eagle), you can use modern American Gold Eagle coins to boost your individual retirement account (IRA). 

American Gold Eagles are some of the only approved bullion coins (outside of Canadian Maple Leaf coins) acceptable for use as part of an IRA!

Additionally, American Gold Eagle coins become more valuable over time, especially if kept in mint condition.

American Eagle Gold Proof version coins (with a frosted finish) are even better investments, as they’re inherently more valuable than standard uncirculated versions.

Find a gold IRA partner today to help you start building your wealth!

FAQs

Below, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about American Gold Eagle coins. Be sure to review these questions (and their answers) to learn more about this unique golden coin!

American Gold Eagles are not pure gold. Though they’re primarily made of gold (89% to 91%, depending on the year), every Gold Eagle coin also contains copper and silver.

Contemporary American Gold Eagle coins (1986 to present) are worth between $100 and $14,000, depending on grade, year, and initial face value. Antique U.S. Eagles can be worth far more, with some selling for millions.

An American Gold Eagle coin contains between 89.92% and 91.67% depending on its year, weight, and type. The coins with the highest gold content are one-ounce $50 American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins (33.93g gold per coin).

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