America's Ever-Changing MoneyPre-Civil War Money (1791-1860)
The 1796 Quarter Eagle was America’s first $2½ gold coin, while $10 Eagles and $5 Half Eagles were first produced in 1795. The designs of most of these early coins featured a “capped bust” or “capped head” representing Liberty. The cap is symbolic of freedom. Freed slaves wore a similar cap. No $1 gold coins were struck by the U.S. Mint until 1849, when California gold began to make its way East. The first $20 U.S. gold coins, called Double Eagles, were also produced in 1849.