Gold Half Eagles
It all began in 1795 when the United States Mint introduced the $5 Gold Half Eagle Coins as part of the country’s fledgling monetary system. The Mint had only been established a few years prior, and the introduction of these coins marked an important step towards the standardization of American currency.
The inaugural design of the $5 Gold Half Eagle Coins featured a striking depiction of Liberty on the obverse. She faced to the right, donning a turban-like cap. On the reverse, an eagle with outstretched wings clutched a shield to its breast, encircled by a wreath. This design symbolized the young nation’s aspirations and ideals.
In 1807, the design underwent its first transformation. John Reich, a renowned engraver, introduced the “Capped Bust” design. This new rendition of Liberty was more mature and classical, with a capped bust facing left. However, the reverse design remained consistent with the original, featuring the eagle and shield motif.
Subsequently, in 1839, the design saw another revision, this time under the creative direction of Christian Gobrecht. The obverse displayed a profile portrait of Liberty, facing left and wearing a coronet with the word “LIBERTY” inscribed upon it. The reverse design was also altered to depict an eagle in flight, clutching a wreath and arrows in its powerful talons.
The Civil War, a tumultuous period in American history, took place from 1861 to 1865. During this time, many gold coins, including the $5 Gold Half Eagle, were either hoarded or melted down due to the economic instability of the era. As a result, mintages of these coins were relatively low during the Civil War period, adding an intriguing layer of historical significance to the series.