American Gold Eagle

Last updated
Gold Eagle
United States
Value5–50 U.S. dollars (face value); see specifications
Composition91.67% Au, 3% Ag, 5.33% Cu
Years of minting1986–present (bullion)
1986–2008, 2010–present (proof)
2006–2008, 2011–present (uncirculated)
Liberty $50 Obverse.png
Design Liberty
Designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Design date1907
Design used1986–present
Liberty $50 Reverse.png
Design Eagle soaring above a nest
DesignerMiley Busiek
Design date1986
Design used1986–2021
Liberty $50 Reverse.png
DesignSide profile of a Bald eagle
DesignerJennie Norris
Design date2021
Design used2021–present

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. Because the term "eagle" also is the official United States designation for pre-1933 ten dollars gold coins, the weight of the bullion coin is typically used when describing American Gold Eagles (e.g., "1/2-ounce American Gold Eagle") to avoid confusion. This is particularly true with the 1/4-oz American Gold Eagle, which has a marked face value of ten dollars.



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 the United States, alloyed with silver and copper to produce a more wear-resistant coin. In addition, sales of these and other specie coins from the US Mint are mandated, at least in part, to pay off the national debt. [1]

The 22 kt gold alloy is an English standard traditionally referred to as "crown gold". Crown gold alloys had not been used in U.S. coins since 1834, with the gold content having dropped since 1837 to a standard of 0.900 fine for U.S. gold coins. For American Gold Eagles the gold fraction was increased again to .9167 or (22 karat). 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 design is taken from the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin which was commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt to create coins like the ancient Greek and Roman coins.

From 1986 to 2021, the reverse design by sculptor Miley Busiek Frost (MB) featured a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her eaglet. Frost says that her eagle design of the family of eagles is “a symbolic tribute to the American family, senior citizens and young people. Frost’s design drawing was sculpted for the reverse of the Gold Eagle by US Mint sculptor - engraver Sherl Joseph Winter (JW). Hence, on the reverse of these coins, the initials MB and JW are inscribed.

In 2021, the US Mint introduced a new reverse design on the American Gold Eagle featuring a close-up head portrait of an eagle. This design was created by US Mint artistic designer Jennie Norris (JN) and sculpted by US Mint medallic artist Renata Gordon (RG). Hence, Gold Eagles from 2021 onwards, show the initials JN and RG on each side of the eagle head design. Norris explains her design inspiration as follows: “The American Eagle is such a noble bird. I was hoping to capture the intensity of his stare through the close cropping. His gaze speaks of pride and wisdom passed down through generations of time. [2]


Gold Eagles minted 1986–1991 are dated with Roman numerals. In 1992, the U.S. Mint switched to Arabic numerals for dating Gold Eagles.

The 1/10, 1/4, and 1/2 troy oz coins are identical in design to the 1 troy oz coin except for the markings on the reverse side that indicate the weight and face value of the coin (for example, 1 OZ. fine gold~50 dollars). The print on the smaller coins is, therefore, finer and less legible than on larger denominations.

Each of the four sizes contains 91.67% gold (22 karat), 3% silver, and 5.33% copper.
Denomination1/10 troy oz1/4 troy oz1/2 troy oz1 troy oz
Diameter16.5 mm22mm27 mm32.70 mm
Thickness1.19 mm1.83 mm2.24 mm2.87 mm
Gross weight0.1091 troy oz (3.393 g)0.2727 troy oz (8.483 g)0.5454 troy oz (16.965 g)1.0909 troy oz (33.931 g)
Face value$5$10$25$50

The 22k gold alloyed makeup of Gold Eagle coins stands in contrast to the 24k Gold Buffalo Coin, which is minted entirely from .9999 fine gold, and therefore weighs less (1 troy oz or 31.1035 grams gross).


The market value of the coins is generally about equal to the market value of their gold content, not their face value. Like all commodities, this value fluctuates with market forces. The face values are proportional to the weights except for the 1/4 oz coin.

While their actual selling price (purchasing power) varies based on the current spot price of gold, [3] these coins carry face values of $5, $10, $25, and $50. These are their legal values, reflecting their issue and monetized value as "Gold Dollars", as opposed to standard bullion. They are legal tender [4] for all debts public and private at their face values. These face values do not reflect their intrinsic value which is much greater and is mainly dictated by their weight and the current precious metal price. For example, on September 13, 2019, the U.S. Mint sold the 2016 one-ounce coin ($50 face value) at $1,510.00. [5] Since the coins can be "paid" only at a disadvantage to the payer, they are generally held as collectibles rather than money, and for US taxpayers are subject to a high capital gains tax rate unless held in an individual retirement account. [6] [7]

In addition to standard bullion coins (sometimes referred to as "scruffies"), the United States Mint also produces proof and uncirculated versions for coin collectors. These coins carry the Mint's mark ("W") beneath the date, and are produced exclusively at the West Point Mint in West Point, New York (formerly the West Point Bullion Depository).

Mintage figures

The figures listed below are the final audited mintages from the U.S. Mint and include coins sold both individually and as part of multi-coin sets. [8]

Historical bullion volumes

Year$5 – 110 oz.$10 – 14 oz.$25 – 12 oz.$50 – 1 oz.
2021 Type-1150,00056,00031,000456,500
2021 Type-2350,000108,00065,000665,500

Historical proof volumes

During the series' initial year, the Mint only issued 1 troy oz proofs. It added 12 troy oz proofs in 1987 and since 1988 released proof variants of all four denominations. In 2009, due to increased worldwide demand for precious metals that precipitated sourcing problems and the Mint's legal obligations to produce bullion versions, proof and uncirculated versions of the Gold Eagle were not issued. [9]

Year$5 – 110 oz.$10 – 14 oz.$25 – 12 oz.$50 – 1 oz.

Historical uncirculated volumes

In 2009, the allocation of blanks towards the legally required production of bullion Gold Eagles affected both uncirculated coin and proof availability. This suspension continued into 2010 for the uncirculated version. When production resumed in 2011 (without the fractional denominations which had been discontinued in 2008), it was met with a weak collector response. [10] The United States Mint provided audited and finalized annual production sales reports between 2006-2012. [11] Afterwards, production sales numbers were provided by the United States Mint in the weekly cumulative sales reports. [12] Volume number is the Last Known Sale (LKS), which is the last sales figure published for that product before it was dropped from the sales report.

Year$5 – 110 oz.$10 – 14 oz.$25 – 12 oz.$50 – 1 oz.
2015-W [13] ---6,533
2016-W [14] ---6,887
2017-W [15] ---5,800
2018-W [16] ---8,518
2019-W [17] ---6,365
2020-W [18] ---6,284

See also

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  1. 31 U.S.C.A. § 5116(2)
  2. "American Gold Eagles – The Most Popular Gold Bullion Coin in the United States". BullionStar Singapore. Retrieved 2023-03-01.
  3. "Historical London Fix Prices 2019 | Kitco".
  4. "Coin and Medal Programs | U.S. Mint". 27 May 2016.
  5. "American Eagle 2016 One Ounce Gold Proof Coin". United States Mint. Archived from the original on December 9, 2016.
  6. 26 U.S.C.   § 1 : Tax imposed: 28-percent rate gain
  7. 26 U.S.C.   § 408 : Individual retirement accounts: Investment in collectibles treated as distributions
  8. "Gold Eagle Mintages | American Gold Eagles". 3 March 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  9. "2009 American Gold Eagle". 8 May 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  10. "2011 Uncirculated Gold Eagle". Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  11. "Annual Production Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  12. "Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  13. "April 10, 2016 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  14. "January 1, 2017 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  15. "November 5, 2017 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  16. "January 26, 2020 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  17. "April 5, 2020 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.
  18. "January 30, 2022 Cumulative Sales Figures". United States Mint.