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$5 Capped Gold Half Eagle

$5 Capped Gold Half Eagle

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$5 Capped Head Gold Half Eagle

Small Eagle Variety - An early gold coin struck at the Philadelphia Mint was the $5.00 Gold, Capped Bust, or Turban Head, as it was often known. The coin was designed by Robert Scot and was the first gold coin to be struck for the United States.

Scot’s design was Miss Liberty facing right. The word “LIBERTY” is above her head and on the periphery. To the right of her face are five six-pointed stars. To the left behind her head are ten five-pointed stars. The date is below Miss Liberty’s bust.

The reverse has an eagle perched on an olive branch with a wreath in her beak. Around the periphery are the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” No denomination is depicted on the coin, which has a reeded edge.

In 1795, the Philadelphia Mint struck 8,707 coins, all of which are exceedingly scarce today. In 1796, 6,196 coins were struck, all of which are the overdate 1796/5. In 1797, 3,609 coins were struck. In 1798, the last year for that Small Eagle reverse, only 6 coins are known to have been struck.

Large Eagle Variety - Robert Scot, who as Chief Engraver, had designed the previous design variety of Half Eagle gold coins, took a great deal of complaints about the “Scrawny Eagle” on the reverse and modified his design to be more of a “Heraldic Eagle” similar to that on the Great Seal of the United States.

Scot’s new reverse had a larger and more dramatic eagle, more befitting our new gold coinage.

The Heraldic Eagle design utilize the exact same obverse design with Miss Liberty wearing a “Turban-type cap” and facing right, with the date below her and stars in front of her and behind her. The motto “LIBERTY” is directly above her at the periphery.

The Heraldic Eagle reverse has a larger eagle, facing left, with an American shield for a body, wings upraised, 16 six-pointed stars are above the wings, and a grouping of clouds are above the stars. The legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” nearly encircles the periphery completely. In the eagle’s right talon are arrows and in her left talon is an olive branch, representing that America is ready for war or for peace.

This design received significantly more favorable commentary and was thought to represent a stronger and more mature United States. The “heraldic eagle” coins were well-received by the public and merchants alike. These coins were struck between 1795 and 1807, so there is overlap[ with the Small Eagle variety for a few dates.

The popular date, 1804, saw two distinct varieties – a Small 8 and a Small 8 Over a Large 8. Annually, the mintages were less than 40,000 coins annually.

Capped Bust $5.00 Gold 1813-1834:

By 1813, the only US gold coins that were being struck were the $5.00 Gold Half Eagles. The $2.50 Quarter Eagles were last struck in 1808 and the $10.00 Eagles were no longer struck after 1804. The Half Eagle became the workhorse coin for the US Mint. At this time, it was profitable to melt the current gold coinage and much of it was destroyed via the melting pot.

John Reich’s Capped Bust Head Left design was immediately popular. The head of Miss Liberty was larger, and a closer facial portrait was created. Miss Liberty, facing left, was surrounded by 13 six-pointed stars with the date directly below her bust. The reverse was virtually unchanged from the prior design.

Reich’s design was employed in 1813 until 1834.


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