American Gold Eagles were first issued in 1986 by the United States Mint. The coin is the official gold bullion of the United States. The United States Congress authorized the coins under the American Eagle Bullion Program in 1985, allowing investors another method to conveniently and effectively invest in gold. Since the series was launched, the mint has offered different versions for investors and collectors. The American Gold Eagle proof coins are the collector version. The United States government guarantees the metal content, purity, and weight of the coins.
American Gold Eagle Proof Design
The 1907 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is the inspiration for the design of the American Gold Eagle coin. Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the 20 Saint-Gaudens to rival Ancient Roman and Greek coins. The iconic image of Lady Liberty striding forward, holding an olive branch in her left hand a torch on her right hand, is featured on the obverse (front) side of the coin. The reverse (back) side of the coin features a bald eagle holding an olive branch while flying to its nest, where a female bald eagle and bald eagle hatchlings are waiting. This image was designed by Miley Busiek.
The American Proof Gold Eagles acquire their high quality finish through a specialized and detailed manufacturing process. After lustrous coin blanks are manually fed through the press, each coin is struck multiple times using specially prepared dies. Commonly, proof coins have cameo finish, where background fields are mirrored and front elements are frosted. This finish creates a very appealing look and feel to the collector coin.
During the first year of production, the American Proof Gold Eagle was offered in the 1 ounce denomination. During the second year of production, the mint added the proof version in the 1/2 ounce size. Finally, in the third year of production, the 1/4 ounce and 1/10 ounce denominations were offered as proofs. The 1 ounce denomination is the most popular. Each denomination contains a different legal tender or face value. The 1 ounce version has a face value of $50; the 1/2 ounce version has a $25 face value; the 1/4 ounce version has a $10 face value; and the 1/10 ounce version has a $2 face value. Between 2006 and 2008, the U.S. Mint also offered a collectible uncirculated version of the coin that was offered in all four denominations. After a two year cancelation, the collectible uncirculated coin has been offered in only the 1 ounce version.
Minting and Purity
American Proof Gold Eagles are minted at the United States Mint at West Point, New York and bear the "W" mint mark beneath the date. By law, the gold content of American Gold Eagles most be derived from American gold sources. In order to produce a more wear-resistant coin, the U.S. Mint adds small traces of copper and silver, also known as alloy metals. These 22 karat gold coins are considered a crown royal standard. The United States Mint had not used crown gold alloys since 1834, because the gold standard for a U.S. coin dropped to 0.900 fine gold. The gold standard was raised once again to 0.9167, or 22 karat, for the American Gold Eagles.
The American Gold Eagles became the United States Mint’s best-selling gold coin shortly after their release. They compete directly with some of the world’s most popular investor gold coins, such as the South African Krugerrand and the Canadian Maple Leaf. The 1 ounce American Proof Gold Eagle sold a total of 446,290 coins in 1986. This is the all-time sales high for this gold proof coin. Even though they were not available until October of 1986, the inaugural year also held the highest sale record for the American Gold Eagle bullion series, until it was broken in 1998. American Proof Gold Eagles have a limited mintage and may be purchased individually, or sometimes in sets of four.
About Proof Coins
Modern proof coins are minted in greater numbers for coin collectors. Most mints around the world issue proof coinage. The term “proof” refers to the production process. Various methods have been used to create the proof finish. Proof coins are rated by certification agencies, with PR70 being the highest rating available for a proof coin, and PR69 being the lowest. The United States Mint has offered a wide variety of proof coins throughout its minting history. The American Proof Gold Eagle is considered by many to be the most beautiful proof coin the U.S. Mint produces. Each denomination of proof American Gold Eagles is available for both collectors and investors to purchase.
Humans have been collecting coins for as long as coins have been produced. Ancient Roman historical records indicate that coins were collected by state treasuries and scholars. It is also likely that citizens would collect them as a form of portable art. In the fourteenth century, collecting coins became known as the "Hobby of Kings," likely because only the very wealthy could afford them in quantity. Now, many centuries later, it is referred to as the "King of Hobbies," a nice spin on the phrase to illustrate the popularity of this centuries old pastime.
There are many motivating factors for collecting coins, but perhaps the most popular is for simple pleasure. Investing is the second most common motivator. There are also many types of coin collectors. Commonly, though, most collectors will focus on a special interest, a historical period, a series, or a certain nation. Louis Eliasberg is the only coin collector thus far to possess a complete set of known U.S. coins, a remarkable accomplishment, and one that is quite valuable as well.
The American Proof Gold Eagle is a valuable collector coin. This is a beautiful addition to any coin collection, especially an American Gold Eagle series. U.S. history buffs will also appreciate owning this coin, as it represents the outcome of an act of Congress, a symbol of our nation, and a specific era of American history.