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EARLY GOLD - EARLY GOLD COINS

We at U.S. Rare Coin Investments highly recommend these Early Gold for investments portfolios. Whether a single coin or the long term acquisition of them with the goal of building a set in terms of historical importances as well as longterm profit potential, cannot be overstated in our opinion.

U.S. Rare Coin Investments is Buying, Selling and Trading Early Gold Coins (Early Quarter Eagles, Early Half Eagles, Early Eagles).


EARLY QUARTER EAGLES (1796 - 1834)

Early Quarter Eagle

Early Quarter Eagles: Capped Bust to Right (1796-1807)

The quarter eagle denomination debuted in 1796, and the first type appeared without any stars on the obverse, making it the only "star-less" early U.S. silver or gold coin. All examples of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint (the only mint at the time), and only in a limited quantity of 963 pieces. This type presents a real challenge to the type collector because of its great rarity. Nevertheless, a surprising number of high-grade circulated examples exist.

Designed by Robert Scot. The design on the first quarter eagle followed that of the half eagle and eagle, but minus any stars on the obverse. The reverse featured a heraldic eagle patterned after the Great Seal of the United States. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the eagle.

Later in 1796, 13 stars were added to the obverse of the quarter eagle. Mintages remained low, reaching a peak of 6,812 in 1807. All examples of this type were struck at Philadelphia, and no Proofs or presentation strikes were made. Artist depiction of the exterior of the Mint's building in Philadelphia circa 1885.

All "Stars on Obverse" quarter eagles are rare with the exception of 1807 and 1802. Surviving examples are distributed fairly evenly over the grade scale; thus, collectors have a wide variety of choices up through AU-58. For a price (usually a high one), there are always one or two Mint State pieces available on the market at any given moment.

Designed by Robert Scot. Same designs as the preceding, but with 13 stars around the obverse.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 4.37 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 20 millimeters


Early Quarter Eagles: Capped Bust to Left, Large Size (1808)

The 1808 quarter eagle was a one-year type with a mintage of only 2,710 pieces, making it one of the rarest and most desirable of all U.S. coins. Either quarter eagles were very unpopular in the early 1800s, or the Mint had little interest in producing them. A look at the mintages of other 1808 coins gives a clear indication of priorities: half cents-400,000; large cents-1,007,000; half dollar-1,368,600; half eagle-55,578; and quarter eagle-2,710. Apparently, there was no great commercial need for the quarter eagle, because once the 1808s were released, none were struck again until 1821.

Despite the low mintage, an unusually high percentage of surviving examples appear in About Uncirculated condition (specifically, AU-58). The rarity of this date and denomination may have been its salvation back in 1808. They might have been saved simply because they were such an unusual denomination. The high percentage of AU examples strongly suggests that, for whatever reason, these coins did not circulate freely.

Designed by John Reich. Liberty's cap no longer looks like a freedman's cap, but just a loose bag with a headband. Liberty's hair falls in curled tresses down the back of her neck. Thirteen stars are arranged with seven on the left and six on the right on the obverse; the date appears below the bust. The reverse features an eagle with its wings outstretched and raised, arrows and an olive branch in its talons. A scroll bearing the words E PLUR1BUS UNUM hovers above the eagle's head, and the denomination in the form "2' D" appears beneath the eagle. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arcs around the upper reverse.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 4.37 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 20 millimeters


Early Quarter Eagles: Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter (1821-1827)

Coinage of the quarter eagle resumed in 1821 using new dies designed by John Reich. The new design featured a smaller head of Liberty, with sufficient space for the placement of stars above. All examples of this type were produced in Philadelphia. A small number of Proofs were made, perhaps to celebrate the resumption of the denomination.

Mintages for this type (as with all early quarter eagles) were very low, all under 7,000 coins, reaching their lowest point in 1826, when only 760 examples were produced using an over-dated die. In fact, the presence of two over-dated dies in this type (1824/1 and 1826/5) suggest anticipated mintages that never materialized. As usual, the Mint's attentions were focused elsewhere during the time of this type, especially on large cents and half dollars.

For the collector seeking an example of the Capped Bust, Small Head quarter eagle, mintages are completely irrelevant. The lowest-mintage coin, 1826/5, is rarer than the highest-mintage 1821, but not by much. In fact, the 1825, which has a lower mintage than the 1821, is by far the most "common" date of the type, by a factor greater than two. The 1825 has a nice distribution of grades throughout the scale, with spikes at the AU level and in MS-61. Why this date survived in such high numbers relative to the other dates is unknown, but the extra population helps keep the value of the type at a manageable level. This type ended with the introduction of the close collar in 1828.

Designedly John Reich. While the head of Liberty resembles that on Classic Head half cents (1809-1836), the bust and head are shaped differently. The reverse is slightly modified version of the preceding.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 4.37 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 18.5 millimeters


Early Quarter Eagles: Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter (1829-1834)

In 1829, new machinery at the Mint enabled a more uniform quality in America's coins. Specifically, coins could now be produced with consistent diameters. Earlier, this was not possible because blanks were allowed to spread out unchecked during the minting process. Thus, the pressure of the coining press or the thickness of the original planchet determined the eventual diameter of the coin. If the pressure varied from coin to coin, so would the diameter. The new technology consisted of a close collar, one that restricted the spread of the metal during stri
king. The close collar ensured uniform diameters and also did away with one step in the coining process. Previously, edge ornamentation or reeding (in the case of the quarter eagle) was imparted in a separate process prior to the actual striking of the coin. The close collar had grooves already cut into it, so when the coin was struck, the metal flowed into the grooves creating the reeding on the edge of the coin.

The Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter type was struck in very small numbers; the highest mintage for this type was 4,540 for the 1830. Many of this type were destroyed shortly after minting because of rising gold prices. Thus, survivors are very scarce, and difficult to locate in any condition. Very few original, unimpaired examples exist. Many have been cleaned or repaired. Ownership of this type is the mark of an advanced collection.

Designed by John Reich. Same designs as the preceding except the border has been replaced with a circle of small beads within araised rim.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 4.37 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 18.5 millimeters


EARLY HALF EAGLES (1795 - 1834)

1795 Half Eagle

Early Half Eagles: Capped Bust to Right, Small Eagle (1795-1798)

Half eagles appeared in 1795, two years after the first American copper coins and one year after the first silver coins. Much of the delay in the appearance of the $5 denomination can be attributed to a lack of gold bullion being deposited at the Mint, but we also know that some of the Mint officials had difficulty obtaining performance bonds allowing them to handle precious metals.

The first type shows a liberty cap-carried on a pole on the half cents and large cents planted firmly on Liberty's head. A long strand of hair wraps unnaturally around the cap, creating the false impression of a turban (this design is sometimes called the Turban Head). The reverse features a scrawny eagle perched atop a palm branch, holding a wreath in its beak. The same designs were used on the first $10 gold pieces, which also debuted in 1795. Only the Philadelphia Mint produced this type. No Proofs or presentations strikes were made. Mintages for this type are very low, and survivors of any date are very scarce, making it one of the most desirable and valuable of all early types. Because the dies were hand-made, numerous varieties exist.

The liberty-cap design has appeared frequently on American coinage, but it dates back at least to ancient Rome, where it was bestowed upon freed slaves. Also known as a phrygian cap, it has been used as a symbol for freedom since that time. In France, it was adopted by the revolution; when the angry mob invaded the palace of King Louis XVI, they forced him to don a liberty cap, as shown in this French political cartoon of the 1790s.

Designed by Robert Scot. The obverse features a head of Liberty facing right, wearing not a turban, but a stylized freedman's cap (the turban confusion probably came about by the long lock of hair that wraps unnaturally around the cap). The word LIBERTY appears above and to the right of her head. Either 15 or 16 stars are arranged on either side of Liberty's head and the date appears at the base of the obverse. The reverse shows a wan-looking eagle perched on a palm branch, its wings outstretched, holding a wreath of an olive branch in its beak. The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arc around the top of the reverse.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 8.75 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 25 millimeters


Early Half Eagles: Capped Bust to Right, Heraldic Eagle (1795-1807)

In 1797, Robert Scot created a heraldic reverse design for the half eagle and eagle, a theme that would eventually be echoed on all U.S. coins except for the half cent and cent. (Coins of this type dated 1795 are thought to have been struck in 1798.) Scot's Heraldic Eagle reverse borrowed heavily from the Great Seal of the United States, which was affixed to all official government documents.

The success of the half eagle depended on the quantity of gold bullion deposited at the Mint. Because only small amounts of gold were received by the Mint in its early years, quantities struck for this type are generally low. However, mintages trended upward as the years passed. Coins were struck in every year except 1801, when all of the gold deposits were used to strike $10 coins. The 1795-dated Heraldic Eagle half eagle was actually struck later, using an odd combination of a leftover 1795 obverse and a reverse of the new type.

Most likely, this odd "mule" was struck in 1798, at the same time as the 1798 Small Eagle-reverse half eagle. This type is replete with interesting varieties, including some overdates (1797/5, 1802/1 and 1803/2). In 1797, obverses can be found with either 15 or 16 Stars (this number was lowered to 13 stars beginning in 1798). In 1798, obverses come with either a large or a small 8 in the date and, on the reverse, either 13 or 14 stars float above the eagle's head. As with most early American gold and silver coins, this type often has problems with adjustment marks and/or weak or uneven strikes. Buyers should also beware of cleaned and/or repaired examples. All examples of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint (the only coinage facility existing at the time). No Proofs were made, but one 1795 eagle with a Heraldic Eagle reverse has been certified as a Specimen.

Designed by Robert Scot. Same obverse design as the previous. The reverse features a heraldic eagle, patterned after the Great Seal of the United States. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the eagle.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 8.75 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 25 millimeters


Early Half Eagles: Capped Bust to Left (1807-1812)

John Reich began working at the U.S. Mint in 1807 as an assistant to the engraver, Robert Scot. Reich's first efforts designing American coins occurred that same year, when his Capped Bust motif appeared on the half dollar and half eagle. The half eagle turned out to be the most important gold denomination in the early 1800s. In fact, from 1809 to 1820, inclusive, it was the only gold denomination produced in the country. As such, there were no breaks in the Capped Bust series, a rare occurrence in any type outside of large cents or half dollars. Mintages were high for the period, reaching a zenith of more than 100,000 coins in 1810. Even the lowest-mintage date (1809) was represented by more than 33,000 coins. Unfortunately for collectors, many examples of this type were destroyed during the frequent periods when their metal value exceeded their face value.

This type contains two overdates: 1808/7 and 1809/8. In 1810, the date is either Large or Small, and the 5 in the denomination is found either Tall, Small, or Large (the rarest combination is the 1810 Large Date, Small 5). The 1811 coin is also found with Small or Large 5 numerals in the denomination.

In general, this type is better made than it predecessors, although weak strikes are sometimes a problem. Adjustment marks are sometimes seen, but they are usually minor due to the better strikes. No Proof examples were made of this type. All coins of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

Designed by John Reich. The Capped Bust design appeared on only one other denomination the quarter eagle of 1808. Liberty's cap looks no longer like a freed-man's cap, but just a loose bag with a headband. Her hair is nicely done and falls in curled tresses down the back of her neck. Thirteen stars are arranged with seven on the left and six on the right on the obverse; the date appears below the bust. The reverse features an eagle with its wings outstretched and raised, with arrows and an olive branch in its talons. A scroll bearing the words E PLURIBUS UNUM hovers above the eagle's head and the denomination in the form "5 D." appears beneath the eagle. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arcs around the upper reverse.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 8.75 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 25 millimeters


Early Half Eagles: Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter (1813-1829)

The Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter type, issued from 1813 to 1829, contains some of the greatest rarities in American numismatics coins such as the 1815 half eagle, the 1822 (three known), the 1825/4 (two known), and the 1829 Large Date. Most of the dates in this series have low mintages, usually below 50,000 coins. The 1820 half eagle has the highest mintage (263,806 coins), and the 1815 has the lowest (635 coins). Some dates, such as 1819, have a reasonably high mintage (51,723 coins) but remain extremely rare today. The rarity of many of the dates cannot be attributed to attrition alone-clearly, vast majorities of many dates were destroyed en masse.

Nevertheless, the collector of average means still has many opportunities to own this type. The most affordable dates include 1813, 1814, 1818, and 1820. Even the 1823 half eagle, with a mintage of only 14,485 pieces, is within reach of most collectors. Several interesting varieties exist to entice the collector. Overdates include the 1814/3, the 1825/1, the 1825/4, and the 1828/7. In 1818, one variety includes STATES OF jammed together as one word; another 1818 variety shows the denomination as 5D over 50 (a similar situation occurs in 1819). In 1820, the 2 of the date is found with either a curved base or a flat, straight base.
The Philadelphia Mint was the sole producer of coins of this type. A tiny number of Proof examples were produced, all of which are extremely valuable rarities. One of the finest Proof examples known to the author is the superb 1828 in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Designed by John Reich. The Capped Head design was only used on half eagles beginning in 1813 and the quarter eagle in 1821. While it resembles the head of Liberty on the Classic Head half cents (1809-1836), the bust and head are shaped differently. The reverse is a slightly modified version of the preceding.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 8.75 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 25 millimeters


Early Half Eagles: Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter (1829-1834)

In 1829, the design on the Capped Head half eagle was modified slightly by William Kneass to accommodate new machinery at the Mint. Half eagles were being struck using a close collar that produced coins of uniform diameter. The borders now consisted of circles of beads within a raised rim. The major design elements remained the same, but the stars, lettering, and dates became smaller.

Rarities in this series include the 1829 Small Date (compared to the earlier Large Date, Large Diameter coin of that year) and the 1832 with only 12 stars on the obverse (an engraver's gaffe). In 1834, varieties appear with either a Plain or Crosslet 4 in the date. All examples of this type were produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Mintages were relatively high (most greater than 125,000 coins), but survivors are very rare. A tiny handful of Proofs were made, but they seldom appear on the market and are extremely valuable.

Designed by John Reich. Same designs as the preceding except the border has been replaced with a circle of small beads within a raised rim.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded
Weight: 8.75 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 23.8 millimeters


EARLY EAGLES (1795 - 1804)

1795 Eagle

Early Eagles: Capped Bust to Right, Small Eagle (1795-1797)

When legislators contemplated America's coinage system, they chose the eagle (or $10 gold piece) as the primary denomination. All other gold denominations were expressed as fractions of the eagle (quarter eagle for the $2.50 gold piece and half eagle for the $5 gold piece) and remained that way until gold coinage was suspended in 1933. The eagle reigned supreme as America's largest denomination until 1849, when it was supplanted by the double eagle.

The first eagles appeared in 1795 along with the first half eagles. The two denominations shared the same design a bust of Liberty wearing a cap, with a strand of hair wrapped around, giving the false impression of a turban. On the reverse, an American eagle was displayed proudly, its wings outstretched and a wreath in its beak.

High-quality examples of this type are very elusive. Many examples show adjustment marks, mounting remnants, repair work, and/or cleaning. Original, unimpaired examples are very rare and extremely desirable. Several examples show Prooflike surfaces, but the authors do not agree that any examples of this type were struck as presentation pieces. Other exam¬ples show a rich, frosty luster that can be quite impressive.

Designed by Robert Scot. The obverse features a head of Liberty facing right, wearing not a turban, but a stylized freedman's cap (the turban confusion probably originated in the long lock of hair that wraps unnaturally around the cap). The word LIBERTY appears above her head. Either 15 or 16 stars are arranged on either side of Liberty's head, and the date appears at the base of the obverse. The reverse shows an eagle perched on a palm branch, its wings outstretched, holding a wreath in its beak. The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arc around the reverse.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded.
Weight, 17.50 grams
Composition, 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 33 millimeters


Early Eagles: Capped Bust to Right, Heraldic Eagle (1797-1804)

In 1797, Robert Scot added his Heraldic Eagle design to the back of the $10 gold piece, as well as to the half eagle. The new reverse was a modification of the Great Seal of the United States, the same seal that certified the president's signature on official government documents. The symbolism was much more powerful than that of the previous design, which featured a smaller, scrawnier bird.

Mintages were erratic, indicating variable demand for this denomination. In 1798, fewer than 2,000 coins were made, but the next year, the mintage jumped to more than 37,000. No eagles were struck in 1802. 1804 saw two versions: the low-mintage regular issue and the extremely rare Proof issues (with a Plain 4) that were struck circa 1834. Aside from the aforementioned rarities, this type is easy to obtain if the collector is willing to pay the price. Original examples are difficult to find, and collectors often must settle for coins with adjustment marks, surface impairments, cleanings, and other problems. Thus, significant premiums are often paid for original, unimpaired coins.

Coins of this type are visually impressive because of the strong designs, their large size, and the heft of their golden alloy. This type ended in 1804, when then-President Thomas Jefferson suspended production of silver dollars and eagles to prevent their eventual destruction by bullion dealers.

Designed by Robert Scot. Same obverse design as the preceding. The reverse features a heraldic eagle patterned after the Great Seal of the United States. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the eagle.

Specifications:
Edge: reeded.
Weight: 17.50 grams
Composition: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Diameter: 33 millimeters


U.S. Rare Coin Investments


Courtesy Jeff Garrrett & Ron Guth: Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933



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