Certified American Gold Eagles refer to any American Gold Eagle coins which have been graded, authenticated, and “”slabbed”” by an official certification company. These Gold Eagles have undergone tests to verify their authenticity, and also have been assigned a grade between 1-70 to determine the coin's quality of appearance and production. The main grading companies in the USA are NGC and PCGS.
The American Gold Eagle is the most popular gold bullion coin in the United States. American Gold Eagle coins are struck each year in four different weights: 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, and 1/10 oz. Each American Gold Eagle coin contains .9167 fine (22 karat) gold and has a face value that corresponds to the weight of the coin. Starting with the 1 oz coin, the face value of American Eagle Gold coins is $50, $25, $10, and $5. The 1/4 oz coin is the only one in the series with a face value that is not proportional to its weight.
Congress authorized the production of American Gold Eagle coins when the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 passed through congress. The act stipulates that the United States Mint must use gold sourced from domestic sources to mint each American Gold Eagle. All of the coins are struck by the United States Mint, with the West Point Mint responsible for the bulk of production. Since 1986, the West Point Mint has produced bullion and proof coins in the series, with a few notable exceptions:
The theme of the series focuses on American freedom. Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the image used today on the American Gold Eagle in 1907. His depiction of Lady Liberty was first used on the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin, and was commissioned by President Theodore Roosevelt. Sculptor Miley Busiek was tasked by the US Mint with creating the image of the bald eagle used on the coin’s reverse side. Her image was developed specifically for use on American Gold Eagle coins.
On the reverse side of American Gold Eagle Coin is Busiek’s image of a family of nesting eagles. In the depiction, a male eagle returns to the nest with an olive branch in its talons. A female and young hatchlings await the male’s return in the nest. Engravings on this side include “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “In God We Trust,” and the coin’s weight, purity, metal content, and face value.
The obverse side bears Saint-Gaudens’ depiction of Lady Liberty. In it, she is featured striding forward over the national capital in Washington DC. She holds a torch aloft in her right hand to guide the way, while clutching an olive branch in her left hand. Engravings include 50 stars around the rim, representing each state, “Liberty,” and the year of minting.
When a coin is listed as certified, it means that one of the major coin grading services has looked closely at the quality and condition of the coins for sale with authorized dealers. The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and Professional Coin Grading Service are the two most prominent certification companies in the precious metals industry.
The most common grades assigned to Certified American Gold Eagles are MS69 and MS70. This stands for Mint State 69 (or Mint State 70), and indicates that the coins are outstanding condition. In the case of an MS69 grade, the coin is found to have an attractive, sharp strike on the face of the coin, with no more than two blemishes. An MS70 grade indicates the same information, but with no blemishes on the coin.
While these are common grades issued by certification companies, that does not mean the coins are easy to find. Both the PCGS and NGC follow strict processes when grading coins, making the coins hard to come by. After grading each coin, the PCGS and NGC issue labels to be sold with the coins when purchased by collectors. Those labels bear the logo of the respective certification company and inform collectors of the details of each grade, as listed above.
Production of American Gold Eagles is determined by consumer demand each year. Over the course of its history, the coin series has experienced three spikes in demand (and thus production). The first came in 1986 when the bullion coins were first introduced. Production that year across all weights exceeded 3.5 million coins. The proof coins, struck only in 1 oz weight, had a mintage of just 446,000.
The coins remained popular in 1987, but by 1988, production was cut in half. Popularity did not spike again until 1997 when precious metal prices increased and demand amid the hustle and bustle of Y2K drove production back up. By 1999, more than 4 million bullion coins were struck. A smaller spike in production occurred between 2008 and 2010 during the Great Recession. Proof coins never experienced another significant spike.
Since 2010, production and sales have remained flat or fallen. In 2013, proof coin mintage didn’t even exceed 100,000 across all four weights. Today bullion and proof coins are available from a variety of years in the coin series. The rarest coins come from the mintage years in between the spikes in production. Coins with a grade of MS69 or MS70 are particularly rare, in part, because neither the PCGS nor NGC is quick assign a coin such a high-value grade.
JM Bullion has a wide selection of Certified American Gold Eagle Coins available. We offer certified coins from both the PCGS and NGC, with MS69 and MS70 grades. Coins are available from a variety of mintage years, as well. However, due to the strict guidelines for coin grading, Certified American Gold Eagles are popular and tend to sell out quickly.
At JM Bullion, security is a priority. We ship all Certified American Gold Eagle Coins in protective cases and use discreet packaging so the contents of your shipment are not easily identifiable. All purchases over $199 from JM Bullion are shipped for free and packages are fully insured against loss or damage. If you have further questions about these coins, making a purchase online, or shipping, don’t hesitate to contact our representatives on the phone at 800-276-6508 or online via live chat.