Most people don't know it, Stacy, but the US has three (not two) currency denominations: there are 100 cents in a dollar, and there are 10 dollars in an eagle, so the denominations are cents, dollars, and eagles. You have a one eagle gold piece, better known as a $10 gold piece. There are also gold coins for quarter eagles, half eagles, and double eagles. For $2.50 quarter eagles that look like the coin in our picture, click to this CoinQuest link. This page applies to $5 and $10 gold pieces. Evaluating them takes a little work.
Start by finding the base value (BV) of the coin. Multiply the gold content in troy ounces by the current price of gold.
HALF EAGLE $5 GOLD PIECE: 0.2419 troy ounces gold
EAGLE $10 GOLD PIECE: 0.4838 ounces gold
Look up the price of gold (it changes every day) at kitco.com, then multiply to find the base value. For instance, if the current price of gold is $1000 US dollars per troy ounce, the BV of a half eagle is 0.2419 x 1000 = $241 and the BV of an eagle is 0.4838 x 1000 = $448.
For most dates and mint marks, you can apply the following rules of thumb to get approximate retail values:
HALF EAGLE rule of thumb:
circulated: BV + $80
fully uncirculated: BV + $160
EAGLE rule of thumb:
circulated: BV + $160
fully uncirculated: BV + $320
But remember that values for these beautiful old coins vary widely. The mint marks, if present, appear under the eagle. Find the mint mark on your coin and, if it is there, use a magnifier to determine if it is C, D, O, or S. Just about all eagles and half eagles with C or D mint marks are extra valuable, starting around $1500 for worn coins and climbing in value as wear goes down. Most O and S mint marks are less valuable. Seek out a knowledgeable collector or a reputable coin dealer for an in-person appraisal. The *really big* dates and mint marks are:
1842C small date variety: $8000 worn condition
1861D: $10000 worn
1864S: $5000 worn condition
1870CC: $22000 worn
It is also a good idea to have your gold eagle authenticated, graded, and encapsulated by one of the numismatic services. Use PCGS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS for this. Look them up on the Internet. Do not use other services. See this page for more info about fakes.
The values quoted are catalog values. Use our Important Terminology page for gaining an understanding about this coin collector weasel word.