When people talk about types of gold coins, the word “type” can have a wide range of meanings. It may mean a U.S. coin or a foreign gold coin, or a rare gold coin versus a bullion coin. Or they may be talking about the specific design of a coin.
The broadest meaning of “types of gold coins” may be coins minted by the United States government or coins minted by foreign governments. Thanks to the size and depth of the U.S. market, the gold coins minted by the U.S. government are by far the most popular “types” of collector and investor coins in the world. Our nation’s pre-1933 gold coins, which were recalled and melted in the mid-1930s, are in great demand from domestic and international collectors and investors. Likewise, our government’s high-mintage post-1985 American Eagle gold bullion coins are the most popular gold bullion coins in the world.
Collecting by Type
Collectors may organize their coins by Type, which in this case means “design.” That means they seek to build a collection with one representative example (or more) of each design in their series. For example, if they collect U.S. $20 gold coins, they may have a basic collection of two coins: one representing the Liberty Head series minted from 1849 to 1907 and one coin from the Saint Gaudens Type minted from 1907 to 1933.
An advanced collection of $20 gold coins might also own all five Type coins representing the design changes within the series. This Type Set of U.S. $20 gold coins would include examples of the following five designs:
Liberty Head Type I Without “In God We Trust” 1849-1866
Liberty Head Type II “In God We Trust” on reverse 1866-1876
Liberty Head Type III Value expressed as “Twenty Dollars” 1877-1907
St. Gaudens Type I Without “In God We Trust,” 1907-1908
St. Gaudens Type II “In God We Trust” on reverse 1908-1933
Another kind of “Type” collection is composed of multiple denominations. A Type collector who is focused on U.S. gold coins might start with one representative coin of each of the following basic denominations: $1, $2.50, $5, $10, and $20. He might then expand the number of designs (Types) to include two examples of each denomination. The Liberty Head design was used on all of our gold coins in the second half of the 19th century and into the first decade of the 20th century. That’s when newly elected President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt ordered the designs of our nation’s gold coins to be updated. That’s why Type collectors now seek the Indian Head $2.50 and $5 and $10 gold coins, as well as the Striding Liberty $20 coins struck from 1907 or 1908 into the late-1920s or early 1930s.
A more advanced collector of U.S. Type gold would also add examples of the $1 (which had three distinct Types) and $3 gold coins. Unlike most other denominations in the U.S. gold coins series, the design of our nation’s $3 coins was unchanged throughout the 1854-1889 series.
There are many types of gold coins: U.S, foreign, rare, and bullion. There are even Types of gold coins within each denomination. Because they’re made of gold, all types of gold coins are highly desirable!