Featured The First U.S. Gold Coins

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by johnmilton, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    These three coins are among the three most difficult to find U.S. type coins. The mintages were very low, and many coins were melted because they contained more gold than their face value.

    Although the first Philadelphia Mint opened in February 1793, it did not issue any gold coins until July 1795. The reason was that the certain key mint personnel, the Treasurer, Chief Coiner and Assayer had to post bonds that were as high as $10,000. All of these men made annual salaries that were around $1,500, which made posting the bonds, without loans from wealthy individuals, impossible.

    Two of those officials had less the sterling credit ratings. Chief Coiner, Henry Voigt had declared the modern equivalent of two bankruptcies. Assayer Albion Cox had gone to debtor’s prison because of some missing copper while he had worked for the company that had made the New Jersey copper coins. Cox had to avoid stepping into the state of New Jersey because of fear of arrest.

    Finally, secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, was able to negotiate lower amounts for the bonds and arrange for wealthy individuals to post the money. This allowed the mint to issue its first silver coins, the 1794 Silver Dollar in October, the half dollar in November and the first half dimes in February 1795.

    By the middle of 1795, Congress was losing patience. The mint had issued a limited number of coins, and some members of Congress were not pleased with the quality of what they had made. Gold coins had yet to be made, and some in Congress thought that the mint experiment might be scrapped in favor of hiring a private contractor.

    The first Mint Director, David Rittenhouse, resigned on June 30, 1795. His replacement, William DeSaussure, would never receive a congressional confirmation, but he accomplished a great deal during his brief time in office. Under his leadership, the coin designs were improved, and he got the first gold coins into circulation.

    1795 Half Eagle.jpg

    The first 1795 half eagles were issued in July. The total mintage for the type, spread over three years, was 18,512 pieces. David Bowers in his "Red Book" on U.S. type coins has estimated that 860 to 1,250 examples of this coin still survive. The 1795 mintage was 8,707.

    The design features Lady Liberty dressed in fashionable style of the period. The reverse features a small eagle holding a laurel wreath in its beak. As it was with the silver coinage, this small eagle design would be replaced by the Heraldic Eagle before the end of the century. Although there are 1795, ’96 and ’97 half eagles known with the Heraldic Eagle reverse, those coins were “emergency issues” that are thought to have been made in 1798. This coin is graded AU-55.

    1795 Eagle.jpg

    The first eagles or ten dollar gold pieces were issued in September 1795. They had the same design as the five dollar gold coins. The mintage for type, spread over three years, 13,344. Bowers had estimated that 430 to 650 pieces have survived. This piece is graded AU-53.

    1796 Quarter Eagle.jpg

    The 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle is the rarest U.S. coin. It was introduced in September 1796 with a mintage of 66 pieces. After those coins were struck, the reverse die failed and had to be replaced. In December an additional 897 pieces were delivered for a total mintage of 963. The estimated number of survivors ranges from a low of 88 on the PCGS "Coin Facts" site to over 200 pieces. My estimate is somewhere around 125 pieces. The coin above is in an MS-62 holder, but my research found that it was once in an MS-61 holder.

    Numismatists have debated as to why the stars were left off the obverse of this piece. Some say that designer Robert Scot viewed the obverse stars as a redundancy since the number states and stars, 16, was represented on the reverse. This is plausible since this was the first U.S. coin to have the Heraldic Eagle reverse. Others say the Scot left them off as a short cut in the die preparation process. For whatever the reason this design is unique among the early U.S. gold and silver coinage as the only type to have no stars on the obverse.

    This coin was the last one I needed to complete my type set. Acquiring it was a major milestone in my time as a collector.
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  3. Penna_Boy

    Penna_Boy Just a nobody from the past

    That 1796 is just stunning. Thanks very much for the info and pics. Very enjoyable read.
  4. David Betts

    David Betts Well-Known Member

    Wow so freaking envious! Those are special!! Thanks for sharing Dang!!!
  5. David Betts

    David Betts Well-Known Member

    Got a 97 small eagle to fill set? Wow!
    johnmilton likes this.
  6. DBDc80

    DBDc80 Numismatist

    These are arguably some of the most beautiful U.S. coins ever made. Thank you for posting!
  7. David Betts

    David Betts Well-Known Member

    I'm not arguing these are the holy grail and never thought I'd see the likes of these pics. Ty
    johnmilton likes this.
  8. CoinBreaux

    CoinBreaux Well-Known Member

    One again, John, you manage to top your previous posts. I really enjoy your threads. :D
    Randy Abercrombie and johnmilton like this.
  9. serdogthehound

    serdogthehound Active Member

    Love these picture . No stars US coins are something special the god even more so then anything
    johnmilton likes this.
  10. Santinidollar

    Santinidollar Supporter! Supporter

    John, that is a killer!
    Randy Abercrombie and johnmilton like this.
  11. charlottedude

    charlottedude Novice Collector

    Beautiful first-year gold. Thanks for sharing.
    Randy Abercrombie and johnmilton like this.
  12. C-B-D

    C-B-D Well-Known Member

    Supreme rarities you got there. Love them!
    Randy Abercrombie and johnmilton like this.
  13. bradgator2

    bradgator2 Supporter! Supporter

    Wow... what's left to say. Thanks for showing them off.
    johnmilton likes this.
  14. Rick B

    Rick B Well-Known Member

    The red book has this listed at $200K! Wow.
    johnmilton likes this.
  15. Jim Dale

    Jim Dale Well-Known Member

    As Art Linkletter use to say on early TV band series, "Wonderful! Wonderful!
    Randy Abercrombie and johnmilton like this.
  16. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    I like very much thank you for posting them.
  17. bud250r

    bud250r Member

    Thanks for the info. I learn so much from reading your posts.
    What a collection you must have!
    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  18. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    I think you mean Lawrence Welk. Met the man and he wasn't a pleasant person.
    Jim Dale and Michael K like this.
  19. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    What an awesome achievement. I am so happy for anyone that works hard (and spends the money) to do something like this. Congratulations. I for one would love to see photos of the entire set. And what is your next goal? (as if you need one)
  20. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Well-Known Member

    Thank you once more for an educational and interesting post. I haven't really done any research on the beginning of the mint, but I'm curious as to why they needed to post bonds?
    Doesn't sound like many of the top people were exemplary.
    johnmilton likes this.
  21. onecenter

    onecenter Member

    Absolutely stunning pieces of historical gold.
    johnmilton likes this.
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