Throughout history, coins have been powerful symbols of wealth, commerce, and national pride. Among the most treasured and sought-after coins in the world is the $5 Liberty Gold Coin, an iconic piece of American numismatic history.
Minted between 1839 and 1908, this remarkable coin holds intrinsic value and embodies a young nation’s ideals and aspirations.
The $5 Liberty Gold Coin, also known as the Half Eagle, emerged during a pivotal era in American history. It witnessed the rise of a nation, the turmoil of the Civil War, and the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Today, it stands as a testament to the remarkable craftsmanship and enduring legacy of the United States Mint.
In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the rich history and allure surrounding the $5 Liberty Gold Coin. We delve into the coin’s intricate design, its role in the economy, and the reasons behind its continued popularity among collectors and investors alike. Join us as we unravel the stories and significance behind this remarkable piece of American heritage.
No collection of Half Eagle gold coins would be considered complete without including the Liberty Head \$5 gold coin. This series showcases a left-facing depiction of a woman wearing a coronet on her head. Her hair is elegantly tied in a bun, adorned with a string of pearls, lending her a regal appearance.
With its smaller denomination, This Liberty Head gold coin holds the distinction of being minted at all the seven mint location in the United States. However, it is worth noting that the Philadelphia Mint was responsible for continuously striking these coins throughout their production.
The story of the Liberty Head gold coins is intrinsically tied to the California Gold Rush. Following the Classic Head gold coin series from 1834 to 1837, the Liberty Head $5 gold coin took place. Notably, this program also marked the introduction of the Double Eagle coin, a significant development in the history of American coinage.
The era of the iconic Liberty Head gold coins ended in the early 1900s when President Theodore Roosevelt advocated for a complete redesign of all US coinage. For this monumental task, he enlisted the talents of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, effectively ending the Liberty Head gold coin program in 1908.
While the $5 Liberty Head gold coins were once relatively common, their scarcity today can be attributed to the recall of these coins during the Great Depression. Thousands of these coins were melted down into bars to bolster the struggling US economy, resulting in only a limited number of surviving specimens.
Consequently, the remaining coins now carry a higher value unlike most other US gold coins.
History of the Liberty Head $5 Gold Coin Design
The design of the Liberty Head $5 gold coin showcases Lady Liberty wearing a coronet on her head and her hair adorned with a string of pearls at the back. While the design remained essentially unchanged throughout its minting history, the sizes of these coins varied. The coins minted between 1839 and 1840 had a diameter of 22.5 mm, while later issues measured 21.6 mm.
Earlier editions featured smaller lettering and a more minor date engraved on the coins. In the mid-1840s, most Liberty Head $5 gold coins displayed larger lettering and date on the reverse side, although some years saw both styles being produced. On the other side of the coin, an early rendition of the US Seal is depicted, featuring a bald eagle with a flag shield on its chest, holding an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its talons.
In 1866, a modification was made to the Liberty Head half-eagle gold coin by adding the US motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST.” Before that year, US gold coins did not bear this religious sentiment. The inclusion of this phrase was prompted by the prevailing religious belief in the nation during and after the Civil War. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase instructed the Mint to incorporate the motto on US coins.
As a result, the mintage of Liberty Head $5 gold coins after 1878 was massive, making them relatively easy to find in gem condition. However, earlier editions are more challenging to obtain.
What Are the Types of $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles?
The $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles underwent several design variations during their production. Here are the detailed explanations for each type:
Type 1: Liberty Head (1839-1866):
The Type 1 design features Lady Liberty facing left, wearing a coronet or small crown on her head. The coronet is inscribed with the word “LIBERTY.” Thirteen stars representing the original thirteen colonies encircle her, and the year of minting is at the bottom.
The reverse side showcases a bald eagle with outstretched wings. The eagle holds a shield on its chest, symbolizing American strength and unity. In one talon, the eagle grasps an olive branch, representing peace, while in the other talon, it holds a bundle of arrows, symbolizing readiness for defense. The motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is inscribed above the eagle, and the denomination “FIVE D.” (for five dollars) is below.
Type 2: With Motto (1866-1908):
The Type 2 design retains the same obverse design as Type 1, with Lady Liberty wearing a coronet. However, the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” has been added on a banner above her.
The reverse side remains largely unchanged from Type 1, with the eagle, shield, olive branch, arrows, and denomination. The addition of the motto represents a shift in the nation’s sentiments following the Civil War, acknowledging faith in a higher power.
Type 3: With Motto, No Motto on Reverse (1908-1909):
The obverse design of Type 3 is the same as Type 2, featuring Lady Liberty with the added motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on a banner.
The reverse side of Type 3 underwent a significant modification. The motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was moved from above the eagle to the obverse, near the edge below the thirteen stars. The reverse now showcases an artistic depiction of an eagle standing on a branch, with a more natural and detailed appearance.
It’s important to note that the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles of each type may have different mint marks, indicating the specific Mint where they were produced, such as Philadelphia (no mint mark), San Francisco (S), New Orleans (O), or Denver (D).
These distinct types of $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles reflect the evolution of American coinage design, incorporating changes in symbolism, religious sentiment, and artistic styles over the years. Each type has its own unique aesthetic and historical significance, making them fascinating collectibles for numismatists and coin enthusiasts.
Who Is Christian Gobrecht?
Christian Gobrecht was a highly skilled and influential engraver who worked for the United States Mint during the 19th century. He was born on December 23, 1785, in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and began his career as a watchmaker and silversmith. Gobrecht’s talent in design and engraving eventually caught the attention of Mint officials, leading to his appointment as an assistant engraver at the Philadelphia Mint in 1823.
Gobrecht made significant contributions to American coinage during his time at the Mint. He is best known for designing several important coins, including the Liberty Seated coinage series, which featured Liberty seated on various denominations. Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design is particularly notable for its classical elegance and enduring popularity.
Gobrecht’s work extended beyond the Liberty Seated series. He also created designs for patterns and medals, showcasing his versatility as an engraver. He is also credited with introducing the “Gobrecht dollars,” a series of pattern silver dollars produced between 1836 and 1839. These coins played a crucial role in the development of the iconic Seated Liberty design that followed.
The contributions of Christian Gobrecht to American numismatics had a lasting impact on the nation’s coinage. His artistic and technical skills helped shape the visual identity of U.S. coins during a critical period of their evolution. Gobrecht passed away on July 23, 1844, leaving behind a legacy of numismatic excellence and innovation.
Is It Worth It to Collect 5 Dollar Liberty Gold Coins?
Whether it is worth collecting $5 Liberty Gold Coins depends on various factors and personal preferences. Here are a few points to consider:
Historical Significance: $5 Liberty Gold Coins have historical significance as they were minted during a transformative period in American history. They reflect the economic, political, and cultural developments of their time, making them appealing to collectors interested in numismatics and history.
Rarity and Scarcity
The availability and scarcity of $5 Liberty Gold Coins can impact their value. Some editions or specific mint marks may be rarer and more sought after by collectors, potentially increasing their worth. It is essential to research the mintage numbers and rarity of specific coins before making a decision.
Precious Metal Value
$5 Liberty Gold Coins contain significant gold, which holds intrinsic value. The price of gold can fluctuate over time, and the current market value of the pure gold content in the coins can influence their worth.
Condition and Grade
The condition and grade of the coins play a crucial role in determining their value. Coins in better condition, with minimal wear and no damage, typically command higher prices. Grading services provide professional assessments of a coin’s condition, which can help determine its value.
Collecting coins, including $5 Liberty Gold Coins, can be rewarding. If you have a genuine interest in the history, artistry, and craftsmanship of these coins, collecting them can provide enjoyment and a sense of connection to the past.
While collecting coins can be an enjoyable hobby, it is important to note that the value of coins can fluctuate, and there are no guarantees of substantial financial returns. If you are primarily considering collecting \$5 Liberty Gold Coins as an investment, it is advisable to research and consult with experts to make informed decisions.
Ultimately, the decision to collect $5 Liberty Gold Coins should be based on your personal interest, financial situation, and collecting goals. Conducting thorough research, consulting with reputable dealers or numismatic experts, and considering your own preferences can help you determine if it is worth pursuing this particular gold coin series as part of your collection.