The idea of gold bullion coins with a net weight of one ounce, or fractions of an ounce, is more than three decades old. There are a host of different bullion coins out there, some from the mints of major nations, others from lands so hard to find that we would need a magnifying glass to locate them on a world map. The American Gold Eagles have certainly become a major player in this field, even though they are not the oldest series of gold bullion coins. Many people are happy to buy one ounce Eagles whenever they have the money. Others with less pony moolah might still want to get some of the smaller, more attractive 1/10 oz Eagles. Yet too often lost in the middle are two other gold bullion Eagles. Let’s take a look at just one and see what the cost might be to increase and form a collection – see what the 1/4 ounce Eagles might have to offer.
Obviously, perhaps the easiest and most direct way to build a collection of 1/4 ounce gold eagles will be to choose what we call regular issues – because calling them “outstanding issues” can be a bit exaggerated. . But we can see that these 1/4 oz coins date all the way back to 1986, and so some of them have undoubtedly changed hands a few times.
When considering buying gold, whether bullion coins or any other form, it’s always a bit dangerous to think back and look back, so to speak. What we mean is that right now, as this is written, gold is floating between $1,800 and $1,900 an ounce, at least as 2021 has become 2022. That means that A single 1/4 ounce gold eagle, sporting its face value of $10, will actually be worth around $450 to $475 for the precious metal. But in 1986, gold was trading at around $400 an ounce. It doesn’t take the proverbial rocket scientist, or even a dollar store calculator, to figure out that means one of these little Eagles cost around $100 at the time. But alas, we are buying now; so we come to face today’s prices.
Speaking of pricing, before going any further, we need to mention two aspects of pricing any type of gold bullion coin. The first is that most monthly price lists give values for such jewelry in grades such as MS-69, or even MS-70 – this one being a technically perfect piece. Ratings this high will always have a premium. The second is that no matter what a 1/4 ounce Eagle looks like, there must be a dealer premium, usually 10-15%. So if a part is lower than this MS-69 and has a few marks, the price will still be around $546, or $475 plus 15%. Keep in mind here that since the dealer had to pay for the part, he or she is only making a profit on the premium from the sale. To quote a merchant of the past, “It’s not sausages. We don’t eat what we don’t sell.
With these prices in mind, it’s worth knowing that almost all 1/4 ounce Gold Eagles will currently be priced around $525. This means that we can probably put together a good series of appointments, but depending on the cost this may take some time.
The good people who worked at the United States Mint realized early on that these new coins had collectible potential. So, that very first year, there were evidentiary issues, or at least there were for the one ounce Gold Eagles. The three smaller versions, including our quarter ounces, had no proofing problems until 1988. But that year became the starting point for four different sized proofs per year, a trend that continues so far. Without a doubt, these will be amazing 1/4 ounce Eagles.
Since we have mentioned regular issue prices, it is only fair to make a few comments about price tags here. The first and most obvious is that these prices are no longer tied to the price of any precious metal weight. The proofs are produced with particular care and are sold as collector’s items. This means that they will generally cost more than some common problems. The second comment we can make is counter-intuitive: the cost of PF-70 specimens won’t be much higher than something like a PF-69 – and might in fact be less than an MS-70 specimen. The reason is ironically what we have just mentioned: the tests are all carried out with particular care. This in turn means that there are more that will end up being encapsulated by a reputable third-party grading company at grade PF-70. This can be good news for the patient collector who is willing to do some bargain hunting.
Beyond Proof: Burnished
For the collector who just wants to have one of every possible type for a coin, well, there is also something called the “burnished” version of the 1/4 oz Eagles. Struck from 2006 to 2008, this release is all about the finish, the surface, of each piece. Are they worth more than regular numbers or less than proof numbers? There was certainly more care taken in their production than with the regular issues. But are they a must-have trio for anyone who collects this series of gold bars? We’ll leave that up to each collector to decide.
All things Considered?
Overall, 1/4 ounce Gold Eagles are a fairly common set of gold coins in the United States. But since much of the hype around this series has focused on either the glamorous one-ounce chunks or the glitzy little 1/10 ounce chunks, that in-between denomination ends up being well beyond the main stream. Still, that could just mean it’s a series with great fundraising potential. υ