$5 Liberty Head Gold Coin

The $5 Liberty Head gold coin with motto was minted from 1866-1908. The designer of this coin was Christian Gobrecht. On the obverse side of the coin is a profile image of Lady Liberty wearing a coronet. Her hair is pulled back with two strands of curly hair hanging down by her neck. Arched around her are 13 stars that represent the 13 original colonies and the mint date near the bottom. On the reverse side of the coin is an image of the heraldic American Eagle looking to the left and the motto “In God We Trust.” The eagle is holding olive branches and arrows in his talons that represent peace and war.

In 1865 the government passed a coinage act that required all coins that had room for the motto to have it added to the coin. The Liberty Head half eagle, the eagle, and double eagle were all inscribed with the motto after the coinage act was established. Silver coins that were larger than a dime also had the motto inscribed on them.

The Liberty Head half eagle coin with motto had two known prototypes struck in 1865. In 1866 dies that were shipped to San Francisco arrived late and the coins that were supposed to have been struck with the motto on the reverse side ended up being struck without it, in fact 9,000 1866 No Motto coins were struck. Later in 1866 34,920 Liberty Head coins were struck with the motto on the reverse side and they carried the ‘S’ mintmark.

On November 13, 1861 a letter was received by Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the US Treasury Department that was written by Reverend Mark Richards Watkinson of Ridelyville, Pennsylvania making the first request for God to be displayed on US Coinage. In the letter he wrote, “You are about to submit your annual report to Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances,” he continued with “One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form in our coins.” This letter along with other series of events that happened after the letter was received is what led to the mandate in 1865 requiring all coins to be struck with the motto “In God We Trust.” The 1875 with motto Liberty Head coin only had 200 of its kind minted and the 1881 Liberty Head coin had 5,708,802 minted. This makes the 1875 coin extremely rare.

The $5 Liberty Head with motto coin consists of 90% gold and 10% silver. It weighs 8.359 grams and is 21.6 millimeters in diameter. It has a gold content of 0.2418 troy ounces.