HomeUS CoinsUnited States 1900 Liberty Head $5 Gold Half Eagle

United States 1900 Liberty Head $5 Gold Half Eagle

United States 1900 Liberty Head $5 Gold Half Eagle

As the penultimate year of production in the Philadelphia Mint’s old second facility on Chestnut and Juniper streets, the 1900 $5 gold half eagle is quite a common type. While this issuance of 1,405,500 coins represents a 17.8% drop from the prior year, it was still 56.2% higher than the following year and well above the average mintage for the series.

Due to both the high value of gold and collectors focusing on the coin as the first issuance of the new century, a good number of these pieces survive to this day in high grade. As a result, examples exist up through MS 67. However, these top grades are quite rare, and the combined population shows that roughly 533 examples are known in MS 65 or better. That said, it was quite rare to see these coins in general circulation, despite President McKinley signing the Gold Standard Act of 1900 into law on March 14 of that year.

American gold coins did circulate overseas, and a total of $15,970,791 worth of U.S. gold was exported in 1900. Adjusted for inflation, this would be about $566,605,639 today. The vast majority of this gold went to France ($11,649,660) and Germany ($4,000,709) in either coin or bullion bar form. This trend of exporting gold to Europe would increase dramatically until the outbreak of World War I, at which point the flow shifted back towards the United States.

The 1900 Half Eagle in Today’s Market

Of the 69 circulation finish issuances of Liberty Bust half eagles, the 1900 represents the sixth-largest struck by the Philadelphia Mint, and the 11th overall. As such, this type is extremely common in almost all grades. In fact, most low-grade examples sell for only a small buyer’s premium over melt of between 5% to 7% depending on the dealer. Therefore, as the gold melt value of the coin is roughly $433 at the time of original publication, circulated AU or below examples can be purchased fairly easily for between $450 and $475. If a collector has their minds set on a specific piece ranging from between AU 53 and 55, they will probably need to pay in the ballpark of $475 to $500. However, you should not be paying anything more than $600 for an example certified at less than Mint State.

Of the total graded population, an estimated 75% are in MS 60 or better. This makes sense for such a common type. These low MS grades are generally worth between $650 and $700. In MS 63 to 64, however, they can sometimes reach above $900. Two examples graded as MS 63 were sold on eBay for just over $1,000 in November 2021. These high prices were due mainly to the fact that both were taken from the Eric P. Newman Collection.

The real value for this type comes in MS 66 and above. While MS 66s regularly bring in between $3,000 and $7,000 at auction, MS 67s can be worth much more. One such piece was sold by Heritage Auctions in their May 2022 Central States auction for nearly $10,250. With a sharp strike and no noticeable bag marks, the coin must truly be considered a Superb Gem. Heritage even stated that, at the time, it was only “the second NGC coin in this condition that we have handled.”

There are no auction records for the top population for this type (MS 68), and if an example were to be placed in a well-publicized public auction, it would undoubtedly bring a hammer price of at least $15,000 to $20,000.

Design

Obverse:

Redesigned in 1839, the main differences between the new Gobrecht Liberty Head and William Kneass’s Classic Head half eagle can be seen on the obverse. Gobrecht retained the 13 six-pointed stars ringing the obverse field, representing the 13 original US states. The date (1900) remained at the bottom, and the whole design was ringed by a denticled edge. However, the Liberty Head’s Lady Liberty was redesigned to be slightly younger-looking. Liberty’s hair is styled up in a bun that is kept in place by a thin beaded thread. Her bangs curl to the back, with several locks of hair hanging down her neck. Additionally, her tiara was made slightly more pronounced towards the front.

Reverse:

The reverse design was changed in only one place, the denomination. Previously labeled “5 D.”, the denomination was now spelled out as “FIVE D.”. The American heraldic eagle, with its customary arrows and olive branches, remained central to the reverse design. The shield decorated with 12 vertical bars and seven horizontal stripes is placed directly in front of the eagles’ chest feathers. The eagle’s wings interrupt the legend, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and almost touch the denticled border. The denomination, at the bottom of the design, is separated from the legend by two centering dots. Struck at Philadelphia, there is no mint mark.

Edge:

The edge of the 1900 Liberty Head half eagle is reeded.

Designer

Born in 1785, Christian Gobrecht began working for the United States Mint in 1823 and became the Mint’s third Chief Engraver in 1840. He served in that position until he died in 1844. Gobrect designed the Flying Eagle cent (1857-1858), Seated Liberty type coins, and the Liberty Head quarter eagle gold coin (1840-1907). A tinkerer, he invented a medal-ruling machine, created his own musical instruments, and developed a camera lucida, which projected images onto pieces of paper.

Coin Specifications

Country:  USA
Year Of Issue:  1900
Denomination:  Five Dollars (USD)
Mint Mark:  None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 1,405,500
Alloy:  90% gold, 10% copper
Weight:  8.36 g
Diameter:  21.60 mm
Edge:  Reeded
OBV Designer  Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer  Christian Gobrecht
Quality:  Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek IQ
CoinWeek IQ
With CoinWeek IQ, the editors and writers of CoinWeek dig deeper than the usual numismatic article. CoinWeek IQ provides collectors and numismatists with in-depth information, pedigree histories, and market analysis of U.S. coins and currency.

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