At the turn of the 19th century, the upheaval of the “Reign of Terror” and Napoleonic Wars resulted in a worldwide rise in gold prices. With the U.S. Mint statutorily bound to the weight specifications and 15 to 1 silver/gold ratio defined by the Act of 1792, the fluctuating market price of precious metals wreaked havoc with U.S. coinage, particularly the largest gold coin, the flagship $10 Capped Bust “Eagle.” By 1795, an ounce of gold—worth 15 ounces of silver in the United States—was worth 15.5 ounces of silver in Paris. That was enough motivation for bullion brokers to buy United States gold coins, mostly with Latin American silver coins, and ship them to Paris to be sold. By 1813 the ratio would reach 16.25:1, and before long, 98% of all U.S. gold coinage would be destroyed. At the end of 1804, President Thomas Jefferson ordered eagle production stopped. It would be 34 years before production resumed.
The Fine Print
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