$20 Gold Menu
Liberty Head Double Eagle 1849 - 1907
Even being opposed by Chief Coiner Peale and Mint Director Patterson, Chief
Designer Longacre produced a double eagle pattern and die trials in 1849, none of
which were deemed satisfactory. Classified as proofs or patterns, one or two 1849
Double Eagles were produced. One specimen is on display in the Smithsonian Institute,
the second has never surfaced, and perhaps never will.
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Content: 90% gold 10% other
Diameter: 34 millimeters
Weight: 33.4 grams
Mint Mark Location: Below the eagle on the reverse.
Type 1 MINTAGE
Type 1 (1849-1866)
"TWENTY D.", No Motto
Liberty on the obverse is said to be modeled after a Greek sculpture, the
"Crouching Venus". The reverse displays UNITED STATES OF AMERICA at 12
o'clock and the denomination TWENTY D. is at the 6 o'clock. Without a
Motto Liberty Head double eagles are considered common, and though prices
for the lower grades reflect the amount of gold contained in this large
coin they advance steeply as low Mint State or finer coins.
In 1866 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse of the double
eagle, this resulted in two designs for 1866: TWENTY D. without a motto
is referred to as the Type 1 double eagle those with TWENTY D. and a motto
is referred to as Type 2.
Type 2 MINTAGE
Type 2 (1866-1876)
"TWENTY D.", With Motto
Additional changes included the oval of stars above the eagle on
the reverse was expanded to accommodate the motto, modification of
the reverse shield, ribbons, and rays, and the lengthening of the eagle's
The Type 3 series of double eagles coincided with turbulent political
and economic times in this country. In 1878 the Type 3 Double Eagles
circulated at the same value as $20 paper money issues, earlier they
had traded at a premium. Even so, they did not widely circulate because
people had become used to using paper money.
Type 3 MINTAGE
Type 3 (1877-1907)
"TWENTY DOLLARS", With Motto
In 1878 the Bland-Allison Act required the U.S. government to purchase
vast amounts of silver. Unfortunately, world demand for silver was dropping.
The result of this was a outflow of gold from the United States, causing
the country to draw nearer to bankruptcy. National bankruptcy was narrowly
averted by the behind-the-scenes actions of wealthy private citizens who
transferred portions of their private gold holdings to the Sub-Treasury in
New York. This was sufficient to avert the crisis, and gold stocks were slowly
replenished in the following months.
|Mint Mark||Mint||Date of Operation|
|O||New Orleans, LA||1838-1861; 1879-1909|
|S||San Francisco, CA||1854-1955; 1968-present|
|CC||Carson City, NV||1870-1893|
O-Mint issues command higher premiums for nearly all dates, but
the 1854-O and 1856-O are extremely expensive.
Other coins with premium prices include:
- 1854 Large Date
- 1861-S Paquet modified reverse variety
- 1861 Paquet reverse (only two specimens known)
- CC-Mint, particularly 1870 through 1873 (extremely expensive)
Coins recovered from several shipwrecks, including the Republic, Central America,
and Brother Jonathan have added to the Mint State populations, but often carry a
modest premium because of the history associated with those pieces.