Buying or Selling a $5 Liberty Head Gold Half-Eagle? Research It for Best Results
Before buying or selling a $5 Liberty Head gold half-eagle or any other Pre-1933 gold coins, it makes sense to do your research. A little bit of legwork can help you to determine if you have a common date coin or a coin that might fetch a nice premium based on the year of production and where it was minted.
Besides that, one of the most satisfying parts of collecting precious metals coins is knowing the story behind each piece. In addition, this series is fun to collect, as it is the only U.S. coin type of a single design struck at seven mint branches. Here’s a jumpstart on your coin research for this $5 gold coin.
History of $5 Liberty Head Gold Half Eagle
The Coinage Act of 1792 had already authorized a gold half-eagle coin. However, it was not until 1795 that the first one was struck. Over the years, the coin was redesigned multiple times. Then, in 1839, the coin received a new design, which we now refer to as the $5 Liberty Head gold coin. The final year of production was in 1908.
Liberty Head Design
The new look for the $5 gold was created by Christian Gobrecht, the third Chief Engraver at the U.S. Mint. Known by collectors as the Coronet Head or Liberty Head gold half eagle, this coin is highly sought after for its unique design as well as the abundance of varieties and rare coins in the series. Describing these coins can be difficult since many changes were made in the 70 years they were produced.
Below, you will find the basic descriptions of the front and back.
The obverse of the coin shows an image of Lady Liberty facing left. Her hair is up, and she wears a coronet inscribed with the word Liberty. Below the head is the date, and thirteen stars surround the head on all other sides.
The mintmark was placed on the obverse, but only for the first year – 1839.
On the reverse of the Liberty Head gold half eagle, you will see a reverse that is like the previous $5 coins. On this side is a heraldic eagle with wings spread and pointed up. The eagle holds arrows and a branch in its claws and has a shield in front of its body. The inscriptions include the denomination “5 D” and the words “United States of America.” In 1866, a ribbon with the motto In God We Trust was added above the eagle.
Specifications for $5 Liberty Head Gold Coin
The Liberty Head gold Half-Eagle presents an enormous challenge for collectors wanting to buy or sell gold coins. With 202 different issues or more of this coin, tracking down one of each coin is certainly a tall task. Not to mention, some of the more rare coins are more prone to be counterfeited, which creates even a bigger challenge. In most cases, you would be smart to request the services of a coin expert to have your coin evaluated and authenticated.
If you believe you have an extremely rare and potentially valuable coin, you may even want to consider having it certified by a third-party grading service, such as NGC or PCGS. Here are the basic specifications.
Denomination: $5 (half gold eagle)
Diameter: 22.5 mm (Broad Mill); 21.6mm (starting in 1840); 21.6 in 1840
Weight: 8.539 grams
Gold content: 0.24187 troy ounces
Purity: 90% fine gold (10% copper for coins from Philadelphia)
Mints: Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, Denver
Total Mintage: 14,077,265 coins for circulation
Best Liberty Head Half-Eagle Coins for Collectors
The Liberty Head Gold Half Eagle offers a rich array of key dates and varieties. So then, which are the best coins in this series to collect? You have a buffet of options that would all be fun and perhaps profitable to collect.
Although any $5 Gold Coronet Head coin would certainly be worth collecting, there are several key date coins that you may want to pursue.
Check out Atlanta Gold & Coin’s Rare Coin Guide to learn more about key date coins of all types of U.S. coins and denominations!
- 1839-C and 1839-D: These coins have a different look than the later coins, with smaller lettering on the obverse and the mintmark between the year and Liberty Head. Both are extremely rare.
- 1847-O: This is the most valuable of the New Orleans-issued $5 Liberty Head gold coins. While 12,000 coins were reported to have been minted, only 50 to 60 are known to exist today, making it one of the most sought-after coins in the $5 Liberty Head series
- 1854-S: With only 268 of these coins minted in San Francisco, this is one of the rarest. Three of these coins are known to exist today. The most recent coin sold at auction in 2021 for a whopping $2.4 million.
- 1861-C: This Charlotte-issued Type 1 with No Motto Liberty Head is an extremely rare and valuable coin but very hard to find.
- 1861-D: This is the last half-eagle struck at the Dahlonega Mint, with perhaps around 1000 minted (only 75 – 100 are known to exist today). Only a few pieces exist in mint state condition. The value of a mint state coin can be quite valuable. The most recent auction on record for a mint state coin, in this case an MS63, sold in 2020 for $282,000.
- 1870-CC: The Carson City Mint was known for its silver coins, especially the Morgan Dollar. However, Carson City struck gold coins are also very rare. They can be identified by a “CC” mint mark on the reverse below the eagle’s tail feathers. As with many of the other coins that we featured, the mintage is well above the number known to currently exist, which is only 75 – 100 coins.
- 1875: Approximately 200 of the Coronet $5 coins were produced in Philadelphia in 1875, making this one of the rarest U.S. gold coins, and certainly the rarest of the Philadelphia-issued coins produced for general circulation. An auction record was just recently set in April 2022 for $480,000.
- 1887 Proof: In 1887, no Liberty Head gold half eagles were struck at all except for 87 proof versions, with 35 – 40 known to exist today. Values begin in the five figures for this highly desirable coin.
Due to being produced for 70 years, the $5 Liberty Head gold coin’s value can be a hard one to narrow down. To help you figure out if you have a key date or rare year/mint mark, we have broken down the top 20, lowest mint years and mint mark in the table below:
The Challenge of Collecting the Coronet Head Sets
One reason it is so exciting to collect Liberty Head gold half eagles is that there are so many ways to collect them. Each strategy presents unique challenges. However, completing even one of these collections is well worth the pursuit.
If you want to assemble a collection of the three primary types of Liberty Head gold coins produced, you might want to look for the following:
- First head design with mintmark on the obverse, minted only in 1839.
- Second head design with the mintmark on the reverse, but no Motto, minted in 1840-1866.
- Second head design with mintmark on the reverse, but with the Motto, In God We Trust, minted from 1866-1908.
Of course, there are many other ways to build a collection or add to the basic one. Here are a few options Mints to think about before you buy or sell.
This may be the most common way to collect Liberty Head gold half eagles. After all, they were minted at every U.S. mint that was producing coins at the time. In general, those minted at the Dahlonega, Charlotte and and Carson City Mints are among the most popular and valuable, but as we noted above, the 1854-S is the rarest.
For this collection, you can start by gathering a coin from each of the seven decades it was produced. By the way, the 1840s have many rare coins among them and a place in history. The next step is filling in the collection until you have one of them from each year.
Why Choose Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers?
At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we love the $5 Liberty Head gold half eagles as much as you do, and in fact, are collectors ourselves. We often have these coins in our inventory or can source them, when requested. As experts in the rare coin market, we can also share with you the history, varieties, and key dates of these coins.
Whether we are selling you coins or buying your $5 gold coins, you can rely not only on our knowledge but also on our transparent and reasonable pricing.
Contact us today to sell your valuable $5 Liberty Head gold coins or to add or start a collection of these desirable coins!