The United States first modern times attempt to enter the gold bullion sales was in 1980, and the effort fell short. A second try in 1986 was met with greater success. Yes, the United States has had gold coins many years ago, but when interest in owning gold renewed in the 70s, the United States tried to get into the market.
There was a demand for gold, and the South Africa Krugerrand was the best known coin. Owning a coin eliminates the need to have an assay when selling, since both the amount of gold and its purity are guaranteed by an issuing government. The problem was the conditions in the South African mines made owning Krugerrands unpopular, many claiming immoral, and finding someone to buy them later also looked shaky, so even the investors with lacking scruples were not so eager to own them.