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LIBERTY HEAD (NO MOTTO ON REVERSE) TWENTY DOLLARS OR DOUBLE EAGLE (1849-1866)

1855 Double Eagle

The 1855 Double Eagle had a mintage of 364,666. They are common in circulated grades; however, rather scarce in Mint State. NGC has certified 327 in total but only 19 in Mint State. With 80 certified in AU58, one can assume that there have been many attempts at recertification to achieve Uncirculated status. A similar situation exists at PCGS. Of the 251 double eagles of this date that have been certified, only 14 are in Mint State with 30 in AU58. No doubt these numbers also include duplication because of crossovers and resubmissions.

Of the 327 that NGC has certified, 17 are specifically designated to have come from the SS Republic. PGCS does not make that distinction for this issue. However, in his book A California Gold Rush History, Bowers indicates that 7 1855 double eagle were found on the SS Central America. All were retained by the Columbus-America group

The 1855 double eagle is a Type 1 variety. As such it lacks the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, which was added to coins of the series in 1866, except for some San Francisco minted coins that were made before the new reverse dies arrived. The 1855 twenty dollar coin also has the denomination written as TWENTY D. It was changed to TWENTY DOLLARS in 1877, creating the Type 3 double eagle.

James Barton Longacre designed the pattern for the double eagle in 1849. It was produced because of the huge amount of gold that came into the Mint from California. With the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in January 1848, the California gold rush began. It led to an influx of miners and others into the area. The vast quantity of gold produced led to a need for a standard form of exchange. The double eagle was the government’s response. They also felt that the new denomination would be useful for large commercial transactions and that it would facilitate foreign trade.

Longacre’s design for the double eagle shows a Liberty head facing left, wearing coronet inscribed LIBERTY. Her hair is tightly tied in the back with two loose curls hanging down her neck to the end of the truncation. She is surrounded by thirteen six-pointed stars with the date below. Dentils are near the edge on both sides of the coin. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle with elaborate ribbons on both sides of the shield extending from the top corner down to the eagle’s tail feathers. The ribbons are inscribed, on the left E PLURIBUS and UNUM on the right. The ribbons were added to the design to symbolize the denomination since this was the first twenty dollar coin. There is an oval of thirteen stars above the eagle’s head and an arc of rays from wing tip to wing tip behind the upper half of the oval. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is in an arc above the eagle, and the denomination TWENTY D. is below. The mintmark, when present, is between the tail feathers and the N of TWENTY.

Specifications:
Weight: 33.436 grams
Composition: .900 gold, .100 copper
Net weight: .96750 troy oz. pure gold
Diameter: 34 millimeters
Edge: reeded


1855 HISTORICAL HIGHTLIGHTS

New York City, Feb. 6. Anti-Slavery Soeietv hears Ralph Waldo Emerson estimate that $200 million would be enough to buy every slave's freedom.
Washington, D.C., March 3. Congress agrees to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis's plan to import Egyptian camels to Southwest at cost of $30.000.
Massachusetts, Apr. 28. Segregation banned in all schools.
New York City, May 9. Brownhelm County, Ohio, clerk John Mercer Langston, first Negro elected to public office in United States, addresses American Anti-Slavery Society.
Kansas, August. John Brown joins his sons and becomes leader of local militia (-» Aug. 30, 1856).
Seattle, Washington, Sept. 28. Puget Sound Anti-Chinese Congress decides to frighten Chinese into leaving state; (many do depart] (-• Nov. 3).
Tacoma, Washington, Nov. 3. Led by mayor, sheriff and deputies, a mob travels through Chinese district. throwing Chinese out of town (-9).
Tacoma, Washington, Nov. 9.U.S. troops arrive to arrest residents who were involved in expulsion of Chinese.
California. Firsl lighthouse on Pacific Ocean is built off coast of San Diego.
Nevrtown Creek, New York. Dr. Abraham Gesner makes kerosene from raw petroleum; promotes it as patent medicine.
Watertown, Wisconsin. First kindergarten in United States, though German-speaking, founded by Mrs. Carl Schurz.
Salt Lake City. Brigham Young proclaims thai a single drop of Negro blood renders a man unfit to enter Mormon priesthood.
United States. American Telegraph Co. formed to transmit messages in Eastern states.
United States. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper begun.
New York City. In seven years since its printing. Stephen Foster's Cantpiown Races has earned him only $101.25.
New York City. My Bondage. My Freedom published by ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.


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1855 Double Eagle - Type I Double Eagles - Philadelphia Mint

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