100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins Series: 2007-W, 2008-W, and 2010-W $10 First Spouse Gold, "Liberty Designs"

While the Presidential $1 Coin Program started in 2007, subsequently, so did another program. As the United States Mint rightfully so decided to honor the U.S. Presidents, they also decided to honor the First Spouses and they did so with a half-ounce of .9999 fine gold. However, only a few of those specific issues have made a name for themselves.

For our next entry exploring Whitman Publishing’s fourth edition of the top 100 Greatest United States Modern Coins, we take a look at four First Spouse $10 Gold Coins that were special for a very specific reason and it just so happens that the years coincided with those presidents that were widowed or unmarried. With authors Scott Schechter and Jeff Garrett in the lead alongside coin dealer influences from across the country, we take a deeper look at those coins and why they seemed to be the most popular in the series.

#58 - 2007-W, 2008-W, and 2010-W $10 First Spouse Gold, “Liberty Designs”

Considering how the series ended up performing, many would wonder or question the Mint’s decision on needing a program like this in the first place. However, Congress needed a program that would introduce .9999 fine gold (24kt) bullion. At the time, American Gold Eagles were being produced with just .9467 fine gold. Production of gold bullion coins across the world was being produced in much higher fineness than that and the Mint wanted to compete.

A snafu if you will of this program was the obvious fact that not all United States Presidents were in fact married while they were in the Oval Office. To combat this inconsistency, the legislation authorizing this program specified that a design representative of Lady Liberty be shown on the obverse of the gold coin in the first four occurrences of there being no first spouse. In addition to this stipulation, the depictions of Liberty were taken from circulating coinage that reflected the time that they were in office.

The first instance of this occurred with Thomas Jefferson. His wife died before he became the third President of the United States. At the time, the Draped Bust Liberty design featured on the cent coins that circulated from 1800-1808 was chosen to be on the First Spouse Gold Coin. Thomas Jefferson’s coinciding 2007-W $10 gold coin featuring Liberty turned out to be a popular coin for the Mint as it sold out in both the Proof (19,815) and Uncirculated (19,823) versions respectively.

The series got less popular after this issue as Andrew Jackson’s First Spouse gold coin in 2008 showcased. President Jackson’s wife died just a few months before his inauguration. The Liberty design borrowed was from the Capped Bust half dollar that circulated from 1808-1836. Only 7,684 Proof examples were sold and 4,609 Uncirculated. President Martin Van Buren’s $10 gold coin that was also dated 2008 used Gobrecht’s Seated Liberty design as seen on the dime. Van Buren has been a widow for 18 years before he became the president in 1837. The Proof version sold just 6,807 while the Uncirculated version sold 3,826.

Finally, the last of the four Liberty designs was used in 2010 for President James Buchanan. The $10 Gold First Spouse coin features the Liberty head from the quarter eagle. Buchanan was known as the “Bachelor President”. Sales rose slightly for this coin as 7,110 Proof versions were purchased and 5,162 Uncirculated versions.

These coins have climbed up the list quite a bit since the first edition of the publication. They started at #84 and have slowly climbed up to the #58 spot.