The burnished gold eagle series began in 2006 and through 2008 with (denominations-weights) of $5 – 1/10 oz , $10 – 1/4 oz, $25 – 1/2 oz and $50 – 1 oz. These are their legal values reflecting their issue and monetized value as coins. They are legal tender for all debts public and private at their face values. The series began again in 2011 with the $50-1oz through the current year. These face values do not reflect their intrinsic value which is much greater and is mainly dictated by their troy weight and the current precious metal price.
By law, the gold must come from sources in America, alloyed with silver and copper to produce a more wear-resistant coin.
The 22 kt gold alloy is an English standard traditionally referred to as crown gold. Crown gold alloys had not been used in U.S. coins since 1834, with the gold content having dropped since 1837 to a standard of 0.900 fine for U.S. gold coins. For American Gold Eagles the gold fraction was increased again to .9167 or (22 karat). It is authorized by the United States Congress and is backed by the United States Mint for weight and content.
The obverse design features a rendition of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ full length figure of Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left, with the Capitol building in the left background. The design is taken from the $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin which was commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt to create coins like the ancient Greek and Roman coins. The reverse design, by sculptor Miley Busiek, features a male eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her hatchlings.