This 1 ounce gold coin was first issued in 1985, and quickly became the preferred gold bullion coin for the US market and well-known around the world as a trusted investment coin.
The Eagle is also issued in half-ounce, quarter ounce and one tenth of an ounce sizes. Though the coins have a face value (1oz: $50, Half oz: $25, Quarter oz: $10 and tenth ounce: $5), their actual value is of course based on the current price of gold.
The coins are alloyed with silver and copper to make them harder than pure gold would be, and more resistant to scratches, dents and other damage. This means that the $50 coin weighs 1.09oz, but contains exactly an ounce of gold. Its diameter is 32.7mm and it is 2.87mm thick.
The obverse of the coin features Lady Liberty and the date of issue, and the reverse shows an eagle with an olive branch landing on the nest. The date was shown in Roman numerals from 1986 to 1991 (MCMLXXXVI to MCMXCI) and in normal numerals from 1992 onwards.
Proof versions of the coin with a mirror-like finish are also produced for collectors, and have a substantial premium over the normal American Gold Eagles.
The coin was originally issued so that the dealers could buy at a very low premium over spot price, then sell the coins to the American public also at a very low premium. However, the coins are so popular, and have become such collectors’ items, that you will find there is a substantial difference between the spot price of gold and the lowest amount you will pay a collector or at an online auction for an American gold eagle, with the fractional coins attracting the highest percentage premium.