In this article, we introduce you to U.S. gold coins — those beautiful, yellow chunks of precious metal that are recognized throughout the world for their consistent quality, beauty, and value. We arrange this chapter according to the face value of the coins, beginning with $1 coins and going through each denomination through $20.
Because of their high intrinsic value, gold coins often possess a high numismatic value as well. Few collectors can afford to collect gold coins any deeper than by 20th-century type, and it is a wealthy collector, indeed, who can afford to collect gold coins prior to 1900 by type. Only a few of the very wealthiest collectors have attempted to collect gold coins by date, but in the few cases where the attempt has been made, the results have been spectacular.
If you're not at the top of the economic food chain, you still have several collecting options available to you. A denomination set contains only six coins ($1, $2.50, $3, $5, $10, and $20), all of which are affordable in circulated grades. A type set contains one example of each of the different designs used on gold coins (for type sets you can stick with one denomination, several denominations, or all of them — the choice is yours). You can always build a partial type set by foregoing the rare, early types and concentrating on the more modern, affordable gold coins. Also, you can collect coins with mintmarksfrom each of the different mints that produced gold coins in the United States (C for Charlotte, North Carolina; D for Dahlonega, Georgia; another D for Denver, Colorado; O for New Orleans, Louisiana; CC for Carson City, Nevada; S for San Francisco, California; and coins with no mintmark from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).
Beware of buying counterfeit gold coins. Buy only coins that have been certified by a reputable grading service or make sure that you have your new purchases checked out by a competent expert.
We don't have the room to illustrate each and every type of gold coin made in the United States between 1795 and 1933. If you get serious about U.S. gold coins and you want a photograph of each type of coin made, we recommend A Guide Book of United States Coins, by R. S. Yeoman (Whitman), or United States Coinage: A Study by Type, by Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett (Whitman).