Before 1933, gold coins were standard currency. In those days, the value of the coins’ gold content was more or less at par with the coins’ face value. That has changed dramatically through the years, and now a gold coin is worth much more than its nominal value.
Gold coins were first minted in 1794 under The Coinage Act of 1792, which directed the new U.S. Mint to produce coins at specified face values. The first coins produced by the U.S. Mint were as follows:
The California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s resulted in an influx of gold coins, using the surplus of various gold mines in Western United States. New denominations were introduced, and large-scale production of gold coins continued until the early 1900s.
In 1933, in the wake of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt declared that citizens could no longer own gold. He ordered the recall and confiscation of all gold coins, and the seized coins were melted and cast into gold bars.
This event wiped out a large supply of then-existing gold coins, leaving only a limited number that is now highly sought by collectors and investors.
Pre-1933 Gold Coins as investments
Physical gold investments are acknowledged as effective investment diversifiers, protecting your assets when stocks, bonds and similar investments are at risk. Pre-1933 Gold Coins are touted as “diversification within diversification”, because their value is measured not only by their gold content but also by their collectability.
These gold coins come in various designs, including several commemorative editions. Popular examples are:
Certified Pre-1933 Gold Coins
The rarity of pre-1933 Gold Coins has made them collector’s favorites. This has, unfortunately, given rise to counterfeits or misrepresented coins.
Additionally, as most of these coins were once widely circulated, many would have been subjected to extensive wear and tear. While coins with obvious wear are still valuable for their gold content and history, they will generally command lower premiums than coins in better condition.
Some coins are also rarer than others, and are thus more valuable.
Certification provides protection for buyers in two ways:
Coin certification bodies in the U.S. are the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). If you’re a collector or want to invest in numismatic coins, you will do well to choose coins that have been certified by either body.