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The $20 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagle was the first $20 gold piece struck by the US Mint between 1850 and 1907; authorized upon the California Gold Rush.
Any US coin referred to as a “Double Eagle” is a gold coin from the US Mint that has a face value of $20 and named as such in the Coinage Act of 1849. This — an act to authorize the Mint to create a Gold Dollar and Double Eagles. These authorized coins were were first minted on the heels of California’s Gold Rush.
Just a little over a decade before America’s first Double Eagle made its debut, the monetary situation in the United States couldn’t be worse. The financial environment for most people, including the banks, remained chaotic for several years after the Panic of 1837.
At the beginning of 1848, James Marshall was surveying the progress of a sawmill he was building near Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, California. He walked along the banks of the American River glimmers of gold flakes in the water caught his attention. He later found a small yellow nugget resting at the bottom of the river. He took it to John Sutter at the fort and confirmed it was indeed gold. The word of the discovery spread quickly and Gold Rush fever was in full bloom. It was the quickest and largest increase in the gold supply in US history and resulted in tremendous deflation, especially in areas where provisions were scarce. Consequently, eggs sold for $3 each, flour spiked to $8 a barrel and a pound of butter was $16.
Congress passed a bill that ordered $1 and a $20 gold coins be minted from the California gold supply. As an inducement to get the bill passed, the coinage authorization would be limited to 2 years and would not be renewed if the coins proved unpopular with the public. Most legislators were skeptical, but Senator Thomas Benton of Missouri predicted there would be a greater demand for the Double Eagle than the dollar. He was right. The Double Eagle lasted 85 years compared to the Gold Dollar’s 40-year run. From the inception of the Double Eagle in 1949 to 1933, when the denomination was suspended by President Roosevelt’s emergency decree, more than 174 million specimens were minted.
James B. Longacre had been appointed chief engraver of the United States Mint after the death of perhaps one of the most famous chief engravers, Christian Gobrecht in 1944. These were big shoes to fill and Longacre didn’t have nearly the experience or engraving expertise his predecessor had. It’s not surprising that Christian Gobrecht’s Greco-Roman Liberty Head design for 1839’s $10 Eagle greatly influenced Longacre’s design for the Liberty Double Eagle. As in Gobrecht’s original, the Longacre Double Eagle design has her wearing a coronet inscribed with LIBERTY surrounded by 13 stars and the date positioned below. The reverse also features an eagle with outstretched wings, its talons clinching onto an olive branch and arrows.
The inscription In God We Trust was added to the Liberty Double Eagle in 1866. This “with Motto” coin became a second subtype. The total mintage was only 16,160,798 coins from 3 mints. Most people who purchase Type 2 Liberty Double Eagle coins are type collectors, the most advanced of whom seek to to collective one specimen from each of the 3 mints. The difficulty and tremendous cost of completing such a set of this design stops many even attempting it.
In 1877, the coin’s denomination denomination designation was changed from reading twenty D to reading twenty dollars. This created yet a third and final design sub-type for the series. The Type 3 Liberty Double Eagle was the largest mintage of the 3 different types with 64,137,477 business strikes and 2,426 proofs minted between 1877 and 1907 when Saint-Guadens’s Double Eagle was introduced by Teddy Roosevelt’s administration.
Recently, average circulated, common date Liberty Double Eagles have been used as a hedge against inflation and as an alternative gold bullion coin to the Krugerrand, the Maple Leaf and the American Eagle. Collectors, investors, and students of the Type 3 Liberty Double Eagle will discover how difficult they can be to acquire and include several ultra rarities that only a few investors could afford.
Midas Gold Group would like to point out, in closing, what a pleasure it is to simply handle these large exquisitely crafted gold coins. It’s hard to imagine, when we look at today’s trinkets that pass as sovereign government coinage, that these beautiful works of art…these miniature sculptures were once used in daily transactions as money.
By any standard, all 3 types of the Liberty Double Eagles are a wonder to behold and represent a bygone era when a person could truly hold their personal wealth in the palm of their hands.
At Midas Gold Group, our rare coins desk caters to the beginning and advanced collector with our full-service concierge service. Whether you are seeking to build and complete a fine collection or sell a collection through auction or third party sale, we are are your service. At Midas Gold Group, we will help you obtain the most prestigious specimens and with our expertise, you will avoid common mistakes.
Standard shipping time is 1–7 business days.
|3||Composition||.9000 gold .1000 copper|
|4||Diameter||1.3425 inches (34.10 mm)|
|5||Weight||1.0748 troy oz (33.431 g)|
|7||Design||James B. Longacre|
|9||Years of Mintage||1849–1907|
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