What Is Pre-33 Gold?

Is pre-33 gold, or pre-1933 gold, significant in the U.S. gold investing realm? The experts use the term pre-33 gold, particularly for gold coins made and used as legal tender in the United States prior to the year 1933. Many investors show an interest in pre-1933 U.S. gold, and Oxford Gold Group’s experts unpack some more information about this popular precious metal classification below.

The Significance of Pre-1933 Gold in the United States

Why does 1933 matter for American gold coins? That year, the U.S. government decided to stop the circulation of gold coinage and took active steps to confiscate the coins that were already in circulation with its citizens. These drastic undertaking has given pre-33 gold coins increased rarity, not only as a precious metal investment but also as a potentially valuable collectible.

Executive Order 6102 and 1933

By the year 1933, the United States was deep into the Great Depression, and the nation saw massive deflation and multiple stock market crashes. Prices around the country fell quickly and stayed low, which the government addressed by devaluing the dollar. The gold standard supported that same dollar, and many members of the government feared that lowering the dollar’s value would boost the value of gold to complicate the currency.

Leaders had concerns that U.S. citizens would begin to hoard gold in this situation. Previously, people used these coins as currency, so President Roosevelt—elected in 1932—addressed this issue with Executive Order 6102, widely known as the ‘Gold Confiscation Act.’ It granted the government permission to seize gold bars and gold coins owned by private citizens around the country, and a year later, the same followed for silver coins and bullion.

While the government allowed some exceptions regarding gold and silver jewelry, agents seized almost all the coins and bars they could find from the populace. The government then revalued gold and decreased the value of the dollar. Most of the gold seized during this period was melted down for storage.

Standard Value of Pre-1933 Gold Coins

The value of pre-33 gold varies based on the kind of coin. Many standard coins, or coins that were in regular circulation, sell for melt value. However, collectible coins often come with higher price tags.

Collectors look for coins that are uncirculated or in excellent condition. Experts like Oxford Gold Group can review the cost for pre-1933 coins and work with you to discuss the possibilities of putting these popular coins into lucrative gold and silver IRA options. We can also provide information about what to look for if you would like to own a pre-33 gold coin.

Examples of Pre-1933 Gold Coins

gold half eagle coin

Some pre-1933 rare coins fetch a significant price when they hit the market. Investors can learn more about the types of gold coins made in this period for a better idea of what is available.

The Gold Dollar

The gold dollar was the lowest denomination gold coin in circulation before 1933. The country produced these coins from 1849 to 1889, measuring 0.04867 ounces of gold and containing 10% copper. Each gold dollar used a Liberty Head design, though there were three variations.

For example, one variation included the Liberty Head in a coronet, and another the look of an Indian princess. The coins minted from 1856 until 1889 used a larger version of the Liberty Head.

The Quarter Eagle

During its period of usage, the government valued the Quarter Eagle at $2.50. The coin saw many design changes, including:

  • A turban head from 1796 to 1807
  • A capped bust in the year 1808 and from 1821 to 1834
  • A classic head from 1834 to 1839
  • A Liberty Head wearing a coronet from 1840 to 1907
  • An Indian head from 1908 to 1929

The coin contained 90% gold, with copper making up the rest of the coin. Each Quarter Eagle contained 0.12094 ounces of gold.

The Three-Dollar Piece

The government produced the Three-Dollar piece from 1854, ending production in 1889. The mint made this coin with 0.1451 ounces of gold and depicted the Liberty bust with a headdress, inspired by Native American designs.

The Half Eagle

The U.S. used the Half Eagle as a $5 piece, minting these pieces from 1795 until 1929. Half Eagles from this pre-33 gold period contained 0.24187 ounces of gold, and the designs changed significantly over time, including versions of a:

  • Turban head
  • Draped bust
  • Capped head
  • Classic head
  • Liberty head
  • Indian head

The specific designs of the coin generally do not impact the asking price. However, some collectors may seek out particular designs if they want to complete a full set containing all the Half Eagles.

U.S. Eagle

Before 1933, the U.S. Eagle served as a $10 coin. The coin typically contained 0.48378 ounces of gold. However, the amount varied due to concerns with exportation in the 1830s. The country produced no U.S. Eagles from the year 1804 until 1838.

As a prized piece, the U.S. Eagle saw far less design variation than other pre-33 gold coins—the only designs were the turban head, Liberty head, and Indian head.

The Double Eagle

The Double Eagle only began production in 1850 due to the influx of gold provided by the Gold Rush to California. The coin only underwent a single design change, from a Liberty head design until 1907 to a new one thereafter.

In 1908, the government released a design created by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that shows Lady Liberty holding her torch and an olive branch. Many collectors recognize this design, as the modern mints use it on current U.S. gold coins. Whether collecting coins or wanting to invest in a gold IRA, experts like Oxford Gold Group can provide the resources you need to find, evaluate, and invest these types of coins wisely.

The Illegal 1933 Double Eagle

When the government confiscated pre-33 gold coins throughout the country, the order made it illegal to continue to own gold coins or gold bars. The restriction lifted over time, and many coins have since come out of the woodwork. However, the government still considers it illegal to own a 1933 Double Eagle, so what sets this coin apart?

The 1933 Double Eagle holds a unique place in history because the United States mint produced around 450,000 of these coins but never released them for circulation. Rather than giving them to the public, the mint melted down the majority of these coins, and the coins were never supposed to leave the facility. The government still considers it illegal to own one, but there have been a few 1933 Double Eagles that escaped destruction.

Several exist in museums, and one was held for a time by King Farouk of Egypt. Typically, the government seizes any 1933 Double Eagles that show up on the market, but who knows how the law might change in the future?

History and Pre-1933 Gold Coins

Gold coins minted before 1933 remain rare, and some people hid them or kept them a secret until the government lifted restrictions on gold ownership. These coins have sometimes ended up for sale, which has opened doors for various investors wanting an exciting piece of our nation’s history. Each pre-33 gold coin comes with a story, and many have interesting patterns no longer used by the U.S. mint.

Current Gold Coins in the United States

one oz gold coin surrounded by salts

The United States eventually returned to minting gold coins, including the American Eagle. However, the government does not design these coins as legal tender but rather to be kept by collectors or as an investment. These modern coins usually have limited value beyond the spot price because the mint produces so many of them every year.

Consumers occasionally purchase coins with a higher value by buying proof coins or uncirculated coins. Individuals living in the U.S. also have the legal ability to purchase gold in other forms or buy coins from other countries. Anyone can invest in gold bars or bullion coins, and any of these make solid investment choices with precious metals that retain their value well over time.

Silver Coins Post-1934 and Collectors

The final category is the silver coin produced after 1934. The Federal government order in 1934 was the sequel to the gold confiscation, but for silver. The government took silver bars and coins from the populace at large, including items like the Liberty Dollar. The U.S. has resumed the production of some of these coins but not for circulation.

Investing in silver coins is beneficial for the lower initial expense compared to gold, but it still provides great investment security. Any investor considering precious metals might do well to look into a silver IRA to protect future wealth—ask Oxford Gold Group more about how to start the process.

Pre-1933 Gold with Oxford Gold Group

Questions about pre-33 gold from the United States are a dime a dozen, so feel free to contact the team of experts at Oxford Gold Group for more information. We can answer any gold investment questions or provide resources about the precious metals trade and investing worldwide.

Get in touch with Oxford Gold Group at (833) 600-GOLD today for more about pre-33 gold or gold IRA-related investments.

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