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Gold Coins
 
 
Until 1933, gold coins were struck for circulation in the United States – and
although it was unlikely that the average person would encounter one, these
coins did, in fact, circulate alongside other coins like the Penny and Dime. 
The gold coin was one of the cornerstones of the American monetary system as
outlined by Congress in 1792, and the $10 “Eagle” was the standard gold
monetary unit.
 
 
The first U.S. gold coins were struck by the U.S. Mint in the 1790’s.  The original
coins were the $10 Gold Eagle, $5 Gold Half Eagle, and $2.50 Gold Quarter Eagle. 
Gold was scarce, so the Mint was limited in the number of gold coins it could
strike.  When gold was discovered in Georgia and North Carolina, branches
of the U.S. Mint opened in 1838 in those states to turn the gold into coins. 
 
 
The greatest boost to gold coinage was the California “gold rush.”  In 1849,
the U.S. Mint struck the first $20 Gold Double Eagle in an effort to use up large
quantities of California gold.  The U.S. Mint in San Francisco opened in 1854 so
that gold would no longer need to be transported back to Philadelphia to be
made into gold coins.  Each gold coin contained exactly its face value in gold. 
This was possible because the price of gold was standardized at $20.67 an ounce. 
A $20 gold coin contained .96750 ounces of gold, which equates to exactly $20 in
gold bullion value at the time it was struck.
 
 
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt removed the United States from the gold standard and recalled all gold in circulation.  At the same time, the production
of gold coins ended.  It was not until 1984 that the U.S. Mint struck another gold
coin (a $10 gold commemorative for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles). 
Since then, the Mint had produced gold coins only as commemoratives and as
bullion coins.