Liberty Half Eagles

historic gold coin icon USA flag icon $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles - minted at 7 different US Mint branches

The $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles are unique in that they are the only US coins that were produced at 7 different mint facilities. They are not rare gold coins since almost 61 million were minted between 1839 and 1908. However, only a tiny amount were minted in proof condition. Besides the main branch of the US Mint in Philadelphia, they were also produced in New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, Charlotte, Dahlonega and Denver. The $5 Liberty Half Eagles were succeeded by the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles in 1908.

The $5 Half Eagles were made of 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.24187 oz of gold. The obverse side of the coins shows a leftward facing Lady Liberty in profile. An eagle that is holding a shield can be seen on the reverse. These are both common images that appear in some form on many other pre-1933 U.S. gold coins as well.

If you want to buy gold in the form of Liberty Half Eagle coins, you should know that different variations of the coins exist. First of all, the diameter of the coins was changed in 1840. Second, the reverse at first didn't display the motto "In God We Trust". It was only added to the reverse design in 1866. American buyers that are investing in gold for their retirement should take note that the coins are not eligible for inclusion in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's) since they are classified as collectible gold coins by the IRS.

obverse side of the 1886 Liberty Half Eagles
reverse side of the 1886 $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagles

Coin Fact Sheet

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter
0.24187 oz US $ 5 90% 22.5 mm
(1839-1840);
21.6 mm
(1840-1908)

Total Mintage: 60,617,703

Liberty Half Eagle Coin Design

reverse side of the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle without motto
reverse side of the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle without motto

The obverse side of the Liberty Half Eagle gold coins depicts a leftward facing Lady Liberty in profile in the style of Greco-Roman sculptures. She wears a pearl crown that has "Liberty" inscribed on it. Thirteen stars appear along the outer edge of the coin, representing the 13 original colonies of the United States of America. The year of mintage is inscribed underneath Lady Liberty's portrait.

The motif on the reverse side of the Liberty Gold Half Eagles is derived from the Great Seal of the United States. It shows an eagle with a shield holding an olive branch and arrows. The motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" appears on a banner above the eagle on coins minted from 1866 onwards. The image near the top of the page shows a coin from 1886 that has the motto on its reverse.

The coin's $5 face value (FIVE D.) and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" are engraved along the coin's edge. Liberty Head Half Eagles that were minted in New Orleans (mint mark: O), San Francisco (mint mark: S), Carson City (mint mark: CC), Denver (mint mark: D), Charlotte (mint mark: C) or Dahlonega (mint mark: D until 1861) contain a mint mark just above the face value and underneath the eagle's claws. However, coins that were minted at the main Philadelphia branch of the United States Mint don't have any mint mark.

History of the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle

The $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle coins were minted from 1839 to 1908. The Liberty Head design that was created by the US Mint's engraver Christian Gobrecht appears on many other gold coins that were minted during this period.

In 1866, the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" was added to the reverse side of the coin. The Liberty Head $5 coins therefore exist with (1866 - 1908) and without motto (1839 - 1866).

The Liberty Half Eagle coin was at first produced with a diameter of 22.5 mm, but in 1840 that was changed to 21.6 mm.

Even though production of the $5 Liberty Gold Half Eagle lasted from 1839 to 1908, only the US Mint in Philadelphia produced them every year during this period (albeit only as proofs in 1887).

The Indian Head Half Eagle replaced the Liberty Head Half Eagle in 1908.

Coin Variations

The $5 Half Eagle coins that were minted in San Francisco in 1866 exist both with and without the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST".

Rare Dates

Especially hard to find are the coins that were minted in Carson City in 1870 (mintage of 7,675 coins), 1873 (7,416 coins) and 1878 (9,054 coins).

The coins minted in Philadelphia are hard to find for the year 1875 (200 coins). Proof coins are even rarer to find if at all possible. Proof mintage of the Liberty Half Eagle gold coin never exceeded a maximum of 230 pieces per year. In 1887, the mint in Philadelphia only produced 87 proof coins and no 'regular' coins.

The coins minted in San Francisco are rare for 1854 (268 coins) and 1864 (3,888 coins) and the coins minted in Dahlonega are rare for 1861 (1,597 coins).

Of the 50 coins that were minted in New Orleans in 1841, none are known to exist today.

Mintage Numbers

Annual mintage of the Liberty Gold Half Eagle at the various US Mint branches varied between 50 coins (New Orleans 1841) and 5,708,760 coins (Philadelphia 1881). Proof coins were exclusively minted at the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint and proof mintage varied between 20 coins and 230 coins (1900). Actual proof mintage for the years 1839 to 1858 is unknown but can be presumed to have been extremely limited.

obverse side of the 1912 Indian Half Eagles
reverse side of the 1912 $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles

Indian Gold Half Eagles

The Indian Half Eagles succeeded the Liberty Half Eagles in 1908. The US Mint produced the $5 Indian Gold Half Eagles with years of interruption from 1908 to 1929. The coins were struck at the US Mint facilities in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans and Denver. They are composed of 90% gold and 10% copper with each coin containing 0.24187 oz of gold. About 14 million coins were minted. However, only a tiny amount were minted in proof condition at the Philadelphia facility. The obverse side of the coins shows a Native American Indian Chief wearing a traditional headdress and an eagle standing on a bundle of arrows and an olive branch is depicted on the reverse.

The Indian Gold Half Eagle page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.