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Ultimate Guide to Buying & Selling Pre-1933 U.S. Gold Coins

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Ultimate Guide to Buying & Selling Pre-1933 U.S. Gold Coins

Before 1933, the United States currency was based on the value of gold and silver. In fact, people used gold and silver coins when making purchases and as a general
medium of exchange while conducting business. In addition, early paper currency was “gold backed” and based on U.S. gold reserves.
Pre-1933 Gold Coins
This so-called “Gold Standard” is long gone now. However, many of the beautiful, valuable, and historically significant gold coins that were minted during that era are still among gold collectors’ favorite pieces. The following guide will help you understand what to look for in these coins and how to sell or buy pre-1933 U.S. gold coins wisely.

Why Collectors Love Pre-1933 U.S. Gold Coins

While precious metals investors often choose generic gold bars, some prefer bullion coins. Modern bullion is tied to the current spot price of gold. However, the coins minted before 1933 add an element of collectability. For this reason, you too may want to add pre-1933 U.S. gold coins to your collection.
In addition, because coin enthusiasts want to add these precious metals items to their coin collections, you can sell them at a price that may be higher than modern gold bullion. In short, pre-1933 U.S. coins are valuable for their gold content as well as their worth as collectors’ items.

Potential Rarity

There’s a misconception perpetuated by some unscrupulous dealers that all pre-1933 U.S.  coins are rare. These are the same type of dealers that advertise gold bullion coins only to upsell customers on rare “confiscation-proof” pre-1933 gold coins. After all, a seemingly limited number of gold coins were minted before 1933. It sounds plausible that there would not be many coins left from that time.

Yet, the truth is that even for coins minted before 1933, there are many common date coins that are not much different in value from modern bullion. Only a few are truly rare gold coins at all, and even fewer are extremely rare. Rather than the general time of “before 1933,” you should pay more attention to specific dates, mints, coin types, errors, and other features that make specific coins rarer than others.

By conducting online research, studying coin books and talking to a precious metals dealer, you can discover the best choices if your goal is to collect rare coins.

Also, make sure to download a copy of our complimentary Rare Coin Guide to help identify rare coins to look out for or identify in your current collection!

Historical Significance

One of the most compelling reasons to buy for coin collectors is the historical significance of pre 33 U.S. coins. Gold coins were minted by the United States mint from 1795 to 1933. At the that time, these gold coins were meant to be used as legal tender. However, in the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an order that changed everything.
Signed into law on April 5, 1933, Executive Order 6102 allowed the government to confiscate all privately-owned gold. Unless someone had very rare, collectible coins, they were bound by law to turn in all gold. The goal was to nationalize the gold supply, a part of Roosevelt’s strategy for breaking the grip of the depression. Since that time, the U.S. Mint has not minted any 90% pure gold coins for circulation.

Complete List of Gold U.S. Coins Minted Before 1933

Whether you are buying or selling, it’s important to know the basic facts about Pre-1933 U.S. gold coins. If selling, you need to be aware of what you have so you can maximize the value of your coins. When buying, you need to be certain you know what you are getting and what it is worth. The following is a complete list of the denominations and types of pre-1933 gold coins that were produced in the U.S., including the dates that each were minted.

$1 US Gold Coins

$2.50 US Gold Coins

  • $2.50 Capped Bust: 1796 – 1807
  • $2.50 Draped Bust: 1808
  • $2.50 Capped Head: 1821 – 1834
  • $2.50 Classic Head Coin: 1834 – 1839
  • $2.50 Liberty Head Coin: 1840 – 1907
  • $2.50 Indian Head Coin: 1908 – 1929

$3 US Gold Coins

$4 Stella
$4 Gold Coin “Stella:” 1879-1880

$4 US Gold Coin

  • $4 Gold Coin “Stella:” 1879-1880

$5 US Gold Coins

$10 US Gold Coins

  • $10 Gold Eagle: 1795–1933
  • $10 Capped Bust Gold Coin: 1795 – 1804
  • $10 Liberty Head Coin: 1838 – 1907
  • $10 Indian Head Coin: 1907 – 1933

$20 US Gold Coins

US gold coins pre 1933 8 coin set



Buying Pre-1933 U.S. Gold

Buying coins from the time before Roosevelt’s Executive Order took effect can be confusing if you do not know what to be aware of or how to proceed. Consider these questions before you choose the coins that are right for your coin collection.

Are Raw or Certified Coins Better?

Whenever you buy gold coins, you need to decide between buying raw coins, certified coins, or a combination.
Raw coins are coins that have not been graded and encapsulated in a hard acrylic holder. Raw coins are also generally cheaper than certified coins. This option is often the best choice for common date coins.
Buying raw coins makes sense if you plan to buy them as an investment based on their precious metal content.

Certified coins are coins that have been evaluated by a third-party grading service (TPGS), authenticated, and assigned a grade based on their condition. They’re sonically sealed and encapsulated in a tamper-proof hard acrylic holder.

  • Certified coins usually cost significantly more than raw coins
  • We recommend buying certified coins if you want to add key date or uncirculated coins to your collection
  • Certified coins display nicely if you wish to show off your collection
  • Certified coins are easier to sell and typically get a higher price if you decide to do so at some point

What About Gold Coin Sets?

If you are considering buying pre-1933 U.S. gold coins as an investment, you may want to buy many coins of the same type. As an example, you may want to purchase circulated condition St. Gaudens coins. This approach makes sense if your primary reason for buying the coins is as an investment as opposed to collecting numismatic coins.US gold coins pre 1933 8 coin set
On the other hand, if you are looking for the collectible aspects of coins, you may want to build a complete set. Sometimes, coin collectors start with one or a few of the coins in a set. These coin buyers often enjoy the hunt to find that last missing piece of the set. Other times, collectors search for a complete set to buy.
Popular coin sets for pre-1933 gold include date sets

for various denominations, for example.
Coin sets, or mint sets, are typically uncirculated or proof coins. However, collectors aren’t restrained by any limitations and can assemble any type of coin set that they wish to pursue. For instance, a coin collector might want to find one of each coin in the complete list of pre-1933 U.S. gold coins above. This strategy is commonly referred to as assembling a “type set.”

Why Talk to a Collectible Coins Expert?

Talking to someone who has extensive knowledge in identifying, authenticating, and assessing pre-1933 coins is the best way to make sure you know what you are buying. There are way too many part-time coin collectors, YouTuber’s, and random people who think their coins are worth more than they are. Therefore, you are better off relying on someone you can trust to guide you.
As your precious metals specialists, Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers can help you locate the pre-1933 U.S. coins that you desire. We offer transparent pricing, so you know how we arrived at our prices. Like all other precious metals dealers, we base our prices on many factors, such as:
–         The current spot price of gold
–         A coin premium
–         Demand for the coin in the marketplace
–         Rarity, condition and mint location
–         Wholesale vs. retail cost

We can also ensure that you know what coin you are getting when you make the purchase. With a coin expert helping you, you can make the best gold coin buy for you.

Selling Gold Coins

Selling gold coins requires confident knowledge of what you have. When you know what you are selling and what it is worth, you can sell it more easily, quickly, and at a fair price. It also helps to know the stories behind the coins. Plus, with details about your individual coins, you can reach the right buyers and be equipped to answer all their questions.

Who is best suited to this task? Unless you are a very experienced coin seller, you will likely get more for your coins by working with a coin specialist. Here’s how it might work… Suppose you have an 1854 $1 Indian Princess Head Coin Type 2 and wanted to sell it.

You would need to go through the following steps:

  • Have the coin authenticated, assessed, and graded
  • Set the right price for the coin based on both spot price and collectability
  • Determine the supply and demand for the coin
  • Find a buyer
  • Find an interested party through your network
  • Market the coin online or locally
  • Identify the right buyer, such as one who exclusively collects coins with Native American portraits or one who is looking for a specific type of pre-1933 gold coins
  • Negotiate the final price
  • Ensure the exchange is made promptly and in a safe and secure location so that both parties are comfortable


Each part of the sales process goes more smoothly and profitably when they are accomplished by an expert who knows their industry and community. Although you can learn much about selling pre-1933 gold, it’s unlikely you will gain the expertise in selling that a dealer who engages in his business full-time over the years.

Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers can help you with both selling or buying pre-1933 U.S. coins. Our coin experts can assist you in helping to reach your investment or financial goals. Our commitment to getting you the best deals, in either case, brings less stress, better prices for buyers and sellers, and a quicker sale or purchase. Contact us today to start the process of buying or selling pre-1933  coins. You can view our current inventory of coins HERE.
Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers

Picture of Tony Davis
Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at atlantagoldandcoin.com to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at sales@atlantagoldandcoin.com or at 404-236-9744

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