The American Gold Eagle is one of the world’s most popular bullion coins. First introduced in 1986, it has become one of the most recognized and frequently traded forms of gold. What some investors may not realize is that Gold Eagles have been struck in a proof format too. In fact, since 1986, the United States Mint has issued collector-edition proof Gold Eagles for collectors too.
For those who are not familiar with the term “proof,” it refers to a method of manufacture. Proof coins are struck from specially prepared dies with highly reflective fields and frosted design features. The result is a beautiful cameo effect. Since proof coins require extra attention and take longer to produce, they are sold at a premium.
Not only are Proof Gold Eagles different in appearance, but they are issued in different packaging. Each proof gold Eagle is placed into a protective hard plastic capsule and delivered in a plush velvet presentation case. Unlike standard American Gold Eagles, which are issued and delivered in tubes, Proof Gold Eagles are individually packaged.
Proof Gold Eagles are struck in four different denominations: 1/10 oz with a face value of $5, 1/4 oz with a face value of $10, 1/2 oz with a face value of $25, and 1 oz with a face value of $50. In 1986, for reasons unknown to numismatists, only the 1 oz coin was released in the proof format. The 1/2 oz and 1 oz denominations were struck in proof in 1987, then from 1988 onward all four denominations were issued.
There was one noticeable gap in Proof Gold Eagle production: the year 2009. Demand for American Gold Eagles had spiked due to that year’s financial crisis. In response, the U.S. Mint was worried that it would not have enough physical metal to produce both regular bullion-issue Gold Eagles as well as the Proof issues. Therefore, the proof coin was put on temporary hiatus until 2010. Similarly, the Proof Silver Eagle was not produced in 2009 due to the same concerns.
In terms of price, Proof Gold Eagles trade for a higher premium compared to the standard Brilliant Uncirculated bullion version. An investor should expect to spend perhaps $300-$400 per ounce over the spot price of gold for Proof Gold Eagles. Granted this is a much higher premium than the standard bullion edition, but the coins enjoy demand from both collectors as well as investors.