Face value on gold coins

I don't mean to sound crackpot, but I'm curious about the face value on American gold coins. We have a fiat currency, so the value of any money is whatever the Treasury prints on it. But when it comes to,
say, an 1oz American Gold Eagle, its face value of $50 is dwarfed by its gold value.
So, what does it mean exactly? If I use one such coin to fill up the tank at a gas station, I'll probably not get any change, I suppose. However, does the government always considers their face value? If not, when does it look at its face value and when at its gold value?
TIA
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Did you buy them at face value? The only issue I can imagine you alluding to here is calculating proceeds and basis for taxable gain. I doubt you can use face value for either, and I hear that you get a special high tax rate based on collectables, as if it were fine art. Maybe the same applies to silver American eagles, but not platinum ones? BTW gold eagles are not 24 karat like Canadian maple leafs are.
Anyway in the last couple months, gold has been relatively dead money compared to silver or palladium: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=GLD&t=6m&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=slv%2Cptm%2Cpall%2C%5EGSPC (if that link looks broken up due to a brain dead parser, then copy and paste it).
Even gld etf apparently gets the collectable rate, so some invest in ticker cef instead. I mentioned slv in my "historic trends by a netkook" thread, but that was for nontaxable roth ira and would prefer even more hyperbolic miner SIL for taxable uses.
Well, my 3 proposed netkook portfolios posted a week or two ago have skyrocketed and made more than SP500 does in most years, and could even be ripe for cashing in. I did swap some of the eastern Europe etfs for PALL although it's doing worse than ultra hyperbolic BAL or SGG. Of course these are super volatile, and you have to be ready to embrace sudden grand-canyon sized dropoffs in price.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gold_Eagle
http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/american_eagles/index.cfm?Action=american_eagle_gold
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I've come across such statements before, but was always left confused:
"American Eagles are imprinted with their gold content and legal tender "face" value. An American Eagle's value is based on the market price of its metal content, plus a small premium to cover coinage and distribution."
In the same paragraph, it's stated that their legal tender value is $50 and that their value stems from their gold content and manufacturing costs. I'm left wondering if one is the value as fiat money and the other as purchase price.
TIA
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Augustine wrote:

Yes.
--
.Bill.


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The fiat price and the value of the medium almost always diverge. In most cases, the fiat price is vastly higher than the medium price. Think of a dollar bill. The paper is worthless, so it trades at the fiat price. Currency generally trades at whichever price is higher.
Pre-'64 silver coins illustrate this nicely - a pre-64 dime has a fiat price of ten cents, just a it always had. But you'd be nuts to give one away for ten cents because the silver from which it's stamped is worth more. You could melt it down and sell the raw silver and make more. So folks pay (closer to) the value of the underlying materials. (As late as the early '90s, I used to periodically find pre-64 silver amongst change I'd get and I always used to keep an eye out for it. I'm pretty sure nobody's given me any pre-64 silver in at least 15 or 16 years and I've long since stopped looking. But when it happened, I always felt like I'd won a prize or something.) Note, though, that when they were actually being pressed, the fiat value was higher than the materials value. Silver went above a buck/oz around '65 and has never fallen below $4/oz since the very early 70s. Quarters and dimes (and half dollars) haven't been the same since.
At one point or another, the value of materials going into a penny was worth more than the fiat stamped value on them (or close enough that it was starting to look ugly). In '82, they switched to copper plated zinc for this reason.
As far as I know, the American Eagle Gold, Silver and Platinum bullion coins are the only money being pressed by the US Mint which has a fiat value well below the value of the materials, which makes the fiat value on them basically just a matter of nostalgia. Unless, as someone else pointed out, gold goes below $20/oz, silver goes below $1/oz, or platinum goes below $100/oz.
Some nice pictures of the current coins here: <http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/american_eagles/index.cfm?action=american_eagle_bullion
--
Plain Bread alone for e-mail, thanks. The rest gets trashed.


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A few months ago, I received a few silver quarters from a change machine. I thought about running all my bills through to see if there were any more, but didn't.
Brian
--
Day 643 of the "no grouchy usenet posts" project.
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through certain dealers. These dealers operate as a gold exchange, hence the customer pays at least the market rate for gold. Second the coins may be used as currency when say, shopping, but cashiers and such are obligated only to treat the coins' value at the value embossed on them.
The coins are a way to invest in gold. The government values them at the price of gold and sells them accordingly, as long as the price of gold means the coins' are valued over their embossed value.
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It means that when gold goes down to $20 per ounce, your $50 Gold Eagle will still be able to buy $50 worth of stuff.
-- Ron
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