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Evolution of U.S. Gold Coins: Did You Know?

Feb 26, 2021

Before the use of coins, Americans had many ways of obtaining goods and services they required. Bartering for goods was extremely common, along with the use of foreign coins. This all changed when the Constitution was drafted and the U.S. Coinage Act was passed in 1792, which was a regulation passed by Congress that established the United States Mint in Philadelphia.

The Act provided requirements for the design and production of coins, which would lay the groundwork for modern U.S. currency. Because the use of Spanish coins was so prominent at this time, Congress chose to set the U.S. dollar comparably in fractions of 100. This resulted in coins representing certain fractions of cents, as well as a coin for $2.50, $5 and $10.

There was a transitional period before foreign coins were circulated out of use, as the U.S. Mint didn't deliver coins until 1793. When they did, they struggled with public acceptance of the coins, as well as keeping up with demand. The California Gold Rush provided enough gold to strike coins. After the U.S. Mint was able to catch up on production, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1857, banning foreign coins as legal tender. During the Great Depression, the act of hoarding gold was stalling economic growth, immediately becoming illegal. This is when paper notes became popular, providing relief until another solution could be found.

In 1965, President Johnson passed the most recent Coinage Act to date, eliminating silver from certain coins due to the silver and coin shortage. Today, common circulating American coins contain little to no pure metals and instead are made up of other metals like copper and nickel. With another coin shortage rearing its head, this may be the best tactic to ramp up production.

Call the number on your screen if you'd like to learn more about Gold's place in history and gold's place in your portfolio. If you'd like to get started on advancing your knowledge of coins, check out our other YouTube videos. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and turn on your notifications so you don't miss our next video.

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