Gold Half Eagles
The Gold Half Eagle with a face value of 5 Dollars was one of the denominations originally authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792. When the first half eagles were struck in 1795, they actually represented the first gold coinage struck by the United States Mint. The denomination continued to be produced across various designs until shortly before the recall of federal gold coinage in 1933.
When the series was introduced, the coins featured a design by Robert Scot depicting Liberty wearing a cap and facing to the right. The type would be struck from 1795 to 1807 with a composition of 91.67% gold and 8.33% silver and weight of 8.75 grams. All issues for this type had limited mintages and were subject to heavy melting, making the acquisition of a single example quite an accomplishment.
The denomination would be redesigned by John Reich with a different interpretation of Liberty facing left wearing a cap. The specifications would remain the same as the prior type, with the diameter reduced in 1829. The series would run from 1807 until 1834 with many of the later dates of the series extremely rare due to extensive melting.
The specifications were changed for the following short lived Classic Head Half Eagles, issued from 1834 to 1838. The coins had an initial composition of 89.92% gold and 10.08% silver and copper with a diameter of 22.5 mm. This was standardized to 90% gold and 10% copper by the end of the series. For this type, examples are more plentiful, with the exception of two branch mint issues of 1838.
The next type was the Liberty Head Half Eagle, which represented the longest running series for the denomination. This was designed by Christian Gobrecht and issued from 1839 until 1908. The coins were struck at the Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints. The rarity and availability varies widely over the course of the long series.
The final type for the denomination was the Indian Head Half Eagle issued from 1908 until 1929. The design by Bela Lyon Pratt was incused, with the details sunken into the surface of the coin. The nature of the design makes this series a stand out amidst American gold coinage.