The Half Eagle is a United States coin that was produced for circulation from 1795 to 1929 and in commemorative and bullion coins since the 1980s. Composed almost entirely of gold, it has a face value of five dollars. Its production was authorized by The Act of April 2, 1792, and it was the first gold coin minted by the United States.
Classic Head Design
By 1834, the gold in the half eagle had been worth more than its face value for several years. The Act of June 28, 1834 called for a reduction in the gold used. The weight of the coin was reduced to 8.36 grams, the diameter reduced to 22.5 mm, and the composition changed to .8992 gold and .1008 silver and copper. A new obverse, the “Classic Head”, was created by William Kneass for the altered coin. The reverse still depicted the modified eagle introduced in 1813, but “E PLURIBUS UNUM” was removed to distinguish further the new composition. In 1837, the gold content of this type was increased to .900 in accordance with the Act of January 18, 1837.
Liberty Head Design
In 1839 the coin was redesigned again. The new obverse was designed by Christian Gobrecht and is known as the “Libery Head or “Coronet head”. The reverse design remained largely the same, although the value was changed from “5 D.” to “Five D.”. For those struck at the Philidephia Mint, there was no longer any silver in the coin, its composition was now .900 gold and .100 copper. However, gold ore used at the southern branch mints of Charlotte and Dahlonega had a high natural silver content, and many of these coins contained up to five percent silver. Its weight was virtually the same, 8.359 grams, but the diameter was reduced one final time, to 21.6 mm, in 1840, for a gold content of 0.242 Troy Oz. This design was used for nearly 70 years, from 1839 to 1908, with a modest change in 1866, when “In God We Trust” was placed on the reverse above the eagle. It holds the distinction of being the only coin of a single design to be minted at seven U.S. Mints: Philadelphia, Dahlonega, Charlotte, New Orleans, San Francisco, Carson City, and Denver.
Indian Head Design
In 1908, the final type, designed by Bela Lyon Pratt, was first produced. The composition, weight, and diameter of the coin remained unchanged, but both the obverse and reverse were drastically altered. The new design matched the new quarter eagle design of the same date. These two series are unique in United States coinage because the design and inscriptions are stamped in incuse, rather than being raised from the surface, meaning that the flat surfaces are the highest points of the coin. The obverse depicted an Indian head wearing a feathered headdress. The reverse depicted a perched eagle with the inscriptions “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and “IN GOD WE TRUST”. Production of the half eagle was suspended during World War I and not resumed until 1929, the final year of issue.
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org