The American Gold Eagle is an official gold bullion coin of the United States. Authorized under the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985, it was first released by the United States Mint in 1986.
One Ounce of Gold
Many countries now issue a one ounce bullion coin to be sold at a very low premium over the intrinsic gold value. The American version is the Eagle.
Offered in 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz denominations, these coins are guaranteed by the U.S. government to contain the stated amount of actual gold weight in troy ounces. By law, the gold must come from sources in America, with an additional alloy of silver and copper to produce a more wear-resistant coin of .9167 (22 karat, which had long been the crown gold English standard for gold coins, and before 1834, for American gold coins as well). It is authorized by the United States Congress and is backed by the United States Mint for weight and content.
The obverse design features a rendition of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ full length figure of Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left, with the Capitol building in the left background. The reverse design, by sculptor Miley Busiek, features a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her hatchlings.
Krugerrands versus Eagles
Because krugerrands were the first one ounce gold bullion coins to be issued it is worth comparing gold eagles with krugers.
Krugerrands were first issued in 1967, as one ounce bullion coins. From 1980, they were also produced in fractional sizes of half ounce, quarter ounce, and tenth ounce. Eagles were introduced in 1986, in all four weights except the quarter ounce which was not introduced until 1987.
On the earlier bullion eagles, from 1986 to 1991, the date is shown in Roman numerals, from 1992 it is in Arabic numerals. We have pictures of the two different types on our Latin Dates on Eagles page.
While krugerrands must be one of the least attractive coins issued, eagles must rank amongst the most beautiful!
Because not everyone can convert Roman numerals and dates to normal Arabic ones, here is a conversion table:
The Eagle Family
Gold Eagles are available in four different sizes and weights, from one ounce to one tenth of an ounce, as detailed below.
Eagle – A New Version of a Traditional Design
Eagles were originally $10 gold coins, double eagles were $20, while half eagles and quarter eagles were $5 and $212 respectively.
When the USA introduced a series of gold bullion coins, it was natural to continue the eagle tradition.
All sizes feature a magnificent portrait of Liberty standing.
The reverse shows an eagle landing in its nest.
The following table summarizes the specifications of all the sizes.
|Face Value||Diameter||Weight||Fine||Gold Content||Gold Content|
|Size||US $||mm.||Grams||/1.000||Grams||Troy Ounces|
The 1/12th of the alloy, or 8.33%, which is not gold, is 5.33% copper and 3% silver. Diameter = Diameter in millimeters.
US $ = US Dollars
mm. = millimeters.
Fine = Millesimal fineness.
Qtr = Quarter.