Of all coins produced by the US Mint prior to 1933, few are more popular the $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagle. While these coins were officially introduced in the mid-19th century, they were continuously produced until 7 years after the turn of the 20th century. Few other coins have enjoyed such extensive periods of production, and for good reason too. Despite their last year of mintage being more than 100 years ago, the Liberty Gold Double Eagle remains one of the most sought after gold coins in the world.
The $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagle’s design may sound unfamiliar, but it has been hailed as the primary source of inspiration for many modern day US coins. For a coin minted anywhere from 107-164 years ago, its design is unbelievably detailed and simply unmatched by any coins produced by any other mint during the same period of time.
The design of this Gold Double Eagle was the brainchild of the same man who contributed to the design of the Indian Head Penny, James Barton Longacre. The coin’s obverse features a leftward facing profile image of Lady Liberty with curled hair and a coronet gracing her head. The coronet itself features an inscription which reads “Liberty.” The outer edges of the coin are marked by 13 stars, meant to represent the 13 original colonies of the United States. Finally, the year of minting is displayed underneath Lady Liberty’s image.
The coin’s reverse draws inspiration from the Great Seal of the United States, which depicts an American eagle clutching an olive branch in one talon, arrows in the other, and with a shield across its chest. There is a ring of 13 stars hovering above the eagle with the words “In God We Trust” inscribed in the center (of all coins minted after 1866). The outer edges of the reverse side are marked by an inscription that reads “United States of America,” as well as the coin’s $20 face value.
Something unknown to most people is that the history of the Double Eagle can be summed up in terms of the Liberty design, minted from 1850-1907, and the St. Gauden’s design, minted from 1907-1933. The Liberty design was simply not very popular when it was in circulation, and therefore found much more infrequently than the St. Gauden’s design.
The first year of the Liberty Gold Double Eagle’s life, 1850, saw more than 1.1 million coins minted between the Philadelphia and New Orleans mint facilities. After 1850, however, significantly smaller quantities of the Double Eagle were minted in a variety of US Mint facilities across the United States, including Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The outbreak of the Civil War also had a significant impact on the number of coins minted annually.
Throughout its production, the Liberty Gold Double Eagle saw its design change ever so slightly during different time periods and, as such, is divided into three subtypes (I, II, and III). The main difference between Type I, minted from 1850-1866, and Type II, minted 1866-1876, is the absence of the “In God We Trust” inscription above the eagle’s head on the Type I coin. The difference between Type II and Type III Gold Double Eagles, minted from 1877-1907, is that Type III Eagles have the $20 face value spelled out as “Twenty Dollars” while all coins previous to Type III merely featured a “Twenty D.” inscription.
The $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagle remains one of the most popular US Mint coins due to it being a substantial investment in gold, as well as a piece of history sought after by most serious coin collectors. The coin itself was produced with 90% gold and 10% copper, meaning it contains nearly as much gold as coins still being produced by the US Mint today. For obvious reasons, these coins are becoming increasingly rare and thus more difficult to find. As time continues to pass, this truth will only grow truer.
Every $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagle purchased from JM Bullion will be shipped to you free of charge in secure, discreet packaging. All of our certified coins will be shipped in their original certified slabs while cleaned coins are shipped in vinyl coin flips.