The Classic Head $5

In 1834, the US Mint created new designs for the US Gold Coins in circulation. The Act of June 28, 1834, was the one responsible for the reduction of the gold coins weight and metal composition. Before, the Gold $5 coin which was the Capped Bust $5 weighs 8.75 grams and was composed of 91.7% Gold and 7.3% Copper. The new $5 coins were 8.24 grams and are now made up of 89.9% Gold and 10.1% Copper.

Samuel Moore, US Mint Director at that time appointed US Mint Engraver William Kneass to prepare the new designs that are entirely different from the previous issues. For the obverse, Kneass created a design where a tousled-haired Miss Liberty was facing left. She was wearing a headband with the word LIBERTY inscribed on it. 13 stars surrounds the profile portrait of Miss Liberty while the date sits below it.

For the reverse, the image of a Heraldic Eagle with the Great Seal of the United States on its chest was featured. The Eagle is seen clutching an olive branch and three arrows on its talons while the words the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination 5 D. encircles the Eagle. Moore omitted the legend E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The design of the Classic Head $5 was continuously changed as some US Mint officials felt unsatisfied with Kneass’ idea. When Kneass’s health deteriorated, Christian Gobrecht was tasked to take his place and went on modifying the design up until 1836.

The Classic Head $5 were minted in US Mints located in Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Dahlonega. Coins bear the mintmarks C and D Charlotte and Dahlonega Mints respectively while those minted in Philadelphia bears no mintmarks.

The Classic Head $5 has a reeded edge, weighs 8.34 grams, are 22.50mm in diameter and has a metal composition of 89.9% Gold and 10.1% Copper. These were minted from 1834-1836 only. Despite its five short years of production, there were a series of varieties that emerged – one of which are changes in the hair of Miss Liberty.

Varieties, Mint Marks and Mintages of the Classic Head $5

US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1834-G$5-Classic Head, Size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

Regular Strike

1834 – 657,460 pieces were minted in the Philadelphia Mint

  •    1834 Classic-Plain 4
  •    1834 Classic-Cross 4

1835 – 371,534 pieces were minted in the Philadelphia Mint

1836 – 553,147 pieces were minted in the Philadelphia Mint

1837 – 286,588 pieces were minted in the Philadelphia Mint

1838-C – 17,179 pieces were minted in the Charlotte Mint

1838-D – 20,583 pieces were minted in the Dahlonega Mint

Proofs

1834 Classic-Plain 4 – minted in the Philadelphia Mint

1835 – minted in the Philadelphia Mint

1836 – minted in the Philadelphia Mint

Collecting Classic Head $5

With regards to Classic Head $5 Gold Coins, these are more affordable compared than the Classic Head $2.5 Gold Coins since these have a higher number of coins produced. It is also not impossible for gold coin collectors to find and complete the series. Two of the most sought-after Classic Head $5 are those minted in Charlotte and Dahlonega.

The highest-priced Classic Head $5 in Mint State are those dated 1834 Plain 4, 1837 and 1838. One can obtain PCGS-graded Classic Head $5 in Mint State for a minimum of $450.00 and up to $285,000.00. For Proofs, prices start at $40,000.00 and up to $$875,000.00.

References:

PCGS, PCGS CoinFacts, NGC Coin