$20 Double Eagles - The double eagle designed by James
B. Longacre had three types; however, by paying close attention
to design details, collectors have found varieties within
The Liberty Head or Coronet double eagle
was first minted for circulation in 1850. It was struck every
year after that until 1907, when the new Saint-Gaudens’
design replaced it. The major elements of the design type,
the Liberty wearing a coronet and the heraldic eagle with
two scrolls, remained essentially unchanged for those years.
Based on changes to the reverse there are
three different main types. The Type 1 coin has no motto.
Anthony Paquet made a version of the reverse in 1861. The
1861-S using the Paquet reverse was included in the 100 Greatest
U.S. Coins (third edition). The letters are taller and narrower
than on Longacre’s version. IN GOD WE TRUST was added
in 1866 creating the Type 2 coin. This change was a result
of pressure from religious leaders who felt that God’s
name should be included on our coinage. In 1866 the San Francisco
Mint issued both Type 1 and 2 coins. The Type 3 coin came
about when the denomination was changed from TWENTY D. to
TWENTY DOLLARS in 1877. In 1900 a new hub was made by Engraver
Charles Barber. It had a smoother back of the eagle’s
head that lacked feathers that projected.
In 1978 staff members of the American Numismatic
Association noticed that on the coins of 1850 to 1858, LIBERTY
was spelled LLBERTY. Two Ls were used instead of the LI. For
more than 100 years, no one noticed or reported this spelling
error, which was corrected in 1859. Other changes to the obverse
were also made. The designer’s initials, J.B.L., were
move, and there were other minor changes as well. In 1877,
when the denomination was changed, there were also small changes
to the obverse, the most noticeable of which were the positions
of the head and the stars.
In total there are three different obverse
designs and five different reverses.
Specifications: Weight: 33.436 grams Composition: .900 gold, .100 copper Net weight: .96750 oz. AGW Diameter: 34 mm Edge: reeded