England introduced the guinea on February 6, 1663. The name “guinea” came from the African nation which was the source of much of the gold that went into these coins initially. It originally had a value of one British pound or 20 shillings. As it was the United States, the bimetallic system did not work well. Over time the value of the coin varied from 20 to as high as 30 shillings. Ultimately the value settled down to 21 shillings. This coin contained 0.2472 ounces of gold. The rule of thumb was that it was a quarter ounce of gold. In terms of the U.S. dollar, it was valued at about $5 in the 1790s and early 1800s give or take. This guinea dated 1798 is a common date. It is called a “spade guinea” because of the shape of the British shield on the reverse. The British stopped issuing these coins not too long after this date because the problems Napoleon was causing on the continent. The United States introduced the half eagle in July 1795. The coin contained 0.2583 ounces of gold, which works out to 4.5% more gold than the British coin. Over time all of the early U.S. gold coins were found to be too heavy. As the 1800s wore on, most of them were shipped to Europe where they were soon melted. That is why these coins are scarce to rare today. It may sound odd to beginning collectors, the U.S. gold coins from the early 1800s are not as rare as the gold pieces from the 1820s to August 1834. The reason is that the export and melting of U.S. gold really cranked up in the late 18 teens. Given the collector demand and the number survivors, the U.S. half eagle is much more expensive today as a collector’s item. The common date guineas in less than Mint State are affordable if you are willing to spend up to $2,000 for a coin. The U.S. coin will cost you several times as much. Here is guinea dated 1776. I bought this piece from the estate of a collector I knew quite well when I lived in the Boston area.