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1857-S Double Eagle

1857-S Double Eagle

1857-S Double Eagle or $20 Gold

PCGS No: 8922
Circulation strikes Mintage: 970,500
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Diameter: ±34 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
Weight: ±516 grains (±33.4 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: "S" (for San Francisco) below the eagle's tail on the reverse.


The interest in gold coins, and double eagles in particular, has risen sharply. Prior to 1985, the 1857-S double eagle was mostly available in grades of Very Fine to Extremely Fine. A few nice specimens were known, but none were choice pieces. The discovery of the S.S. Central America changed the landscape of collecting double eagles profoundly. There were more than 5,000 examples of the 1857-S double eagle aboard when the ship sank. Many of the examples found were in the same state of preservation as the day they left the Mint, The fabulous condition of the coins is what makes them so special; the shipwreck find made early double eagles available in high-grade condition. At least eight different varieties of the 1857-S were identified. Note: this coin is included among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins (Garrett and Guth 2005).

Key to Collecting: More than 5,400 Mint State 1857-S double eagles were recovered from the wreck of the 5.5. Central America, lost at sea in a hurricane on September 12, 1857, some details of which are given below. These and other numismatic items electrified the numismatic community. In time, allwere sold, realizing, per reports, over $100,000,000.
Prior to the treasure find, the 1857-S was considered to be a plentiful coin in such grades as VF, EF, and AU, but elusive in Mint State, most of the latter being in lower ranges. Now available on the secondary market are choice and gem coins of superb appearance. Accordingly, this one coin is an ideal candidate for a type set because it is readfly available and also as it comes with one of the most gripping stories in American maritime history and in treasure finding.

Aspects of Striking:
Usually quite well struck with superb detail of Miss Liberty's hair, stars, and other features. Some are prooflike (called DMPL, or "cameo contrast"), while others are frosty. The use of multiple die pairs and striking periods yielded striking variations.

Die Data: Standard four-digit logotype punch for this year (see description under 1857 Philadelphia Mint). Medium S (1.3 mm.) and large S (1.7 mm.) varieties. Bob Evans studied 3,107 of the pieces recovered from the S.S. Central America, representing the majority of those found, attributing them to obverse and reverse die varieties in a study published in The Numismatist, official journal of the American Numismatic Association, in 2000.

Number of Appearances: 143 (32%)
High Grade Condition Points: 61
Average Grade: VF-39

Auction Records:

(18) Unc: Hughes 3/80; Stack's 6; 79; Kagin's 1 79; Ivy 1 / 78; New England 11 ,'75; ANA 1975; Pine Tree 2/75; Superior 10/74; Stack's 6/74; AAA 11/73; ANA 1971; Alto 1970; DiBello 1970; Miles 1968; Kern 1950; MC 1948; WGC 1946; Hall 1945

(25) AU: B&R 9/81; Stack's 9.. 81. 12, 79; ANA 1979; New England 3/79; Stack's 2, 79; Pine Tree 6/78; Superior 6/78; New England 11/77; Ivy 10/77; New England 7/77; Stack's 3 77; New England 11 75; Pine Tree 6/75; Paramount 11 74, 2/74, 5/ 73; Stack's 3 73, 2, 73; Gilhousen 1973; Stack's 2/ 72; ANA 1963; Bell 1944; Roach 1944; Dunham 1941

(65) EF: Stack's 12/81; Coin Galleries 9/81; Auction '81; Stack's 6/81, 3/81; Kreisberg 9/80; Stack's 6/80, 3/80. 2/80 (2), 12/79 (2); Paramount 11 79; Superior 10/79; Stack's 10/79; Auction '79; Stack's 6/79; B&R 4,79; New England 3/79; Ivy 2/79; B&R 2/79(2); NASCA 12/78; Stack's 10/78; Pine Tree 6/78; Stack's 6, 78; Superior 6 78; RARCOA 1 78; Stack's 12/77, 6/77; ANA 1976 (2); Stack's 4/76; Coin Galleries 11,75; Paramount 11/75; ANA 1975; Paramount 5/75; Stack's 4/30/75; Beck 1975; AAA 11/74; ANA 1974(2); Pine Tree 3 74; Scanlon 1973; Superior 12 72; RARCOA 4/72; Shapero 1971; Kreisberg Cohen 9 71; Stack's 4/71, 6,70, 3,69. 5;68, 4/67, 1/67, 10/66; Walton 1963; Bell 1963; FUN 1963; Wolfson 1962; Holmes 1960; Baldenhofer 1955 (2); Menjou 1950; Atwater 1946; Ten Eyck 1922

(26) VF: New England 11/80; NASCA 10/79; Superior 10/78; Stack's 2/77; ANA 1976; Coin Galleries 4/76; Superior 3/71; Kreisberg/Cohen 11/70; Stack's 1/69; Kreisberg/Cohen 6/68; Shuford 1968, 10/65; Stack's 2/65; Paramount 2/65; ANA 1964; Ward 1964 (2); Golden 1963, 1962; Cicero 1960(2); Holmes 1960; Melish 1956 (2); Smith 1955; Farouk 1954

(8) Fine: Stack's 1/70; Kreisberg 9/67, 4/67, 10/66, 11/65,6/65; Golden 1963; Lee 1947

(1) VG: Cicero 1960

Based on the number of specimens available in all grades, the 1857-S Double Eagle is one of the more common Type I S-Mint Double Eagles. It is similar in overall rarity to the I855-S, 1858-S, 1859-S and 1865-S. Most available specimens grade only VF or EF but AU examples, while certainly very scarce, can also generally be located. Uncirculated pieces are definitely rare and choice or gem quality examples are seldom, if ever, available. I have never seen anything other than frosty examples of this date.


Washington. D.C.. Feb. 21. Congress passes legislation barring use of foreign coins in United Slates.
Washington. D.C.. March 3. Congress appropriates $70.000 to assist trans-AtliiiitLC cable financed by Cyrus Field.
United States. May 26. Dred Scotl freed by his new owner (-Dec. 31).
United States, June 27. Scientific American cites threat to whale population, as in¬creased literacy rate heightens demand for lamp oil.
Oregon Territory July 1. Henry Pittock and three others reach top of Mount Hood.
Washington, D.C., July 13. Alfred Cumming officially replaces Brigham Young as Governor of Utah, with authority to use federal troops to enforce national law (—Oct. 4).
Valentia Bay, Ireland. Aug. 14. Ships from United States and Britain assemble to begin laying first trans-Atlantic cableVSepl. 2, IK5B).
New York City, First passenger elevator, invented by Elisha Otis. installed in Haughwout Department Store.
Moline, Illinois. John Deere is producing 10.000 steel plows a year.
Chicago. Baseball ruling sets length of game at nine innings.
New York City. Cooper Union founded by Peter Cooper, providing education for working class.
Michigan. Thomas F.dison founds chemistry lab at home, marking all bottles "poison." to ainuscmenl of friends.
Arizona. Edward Beale blazes wagon trail from Fort Defiance to Colorado, using camels as pack animals (— June 16).
United States. American cities reportedly have highest death rales in world, due. in large part, in tuberculosis.
San Diego, California. Introduction of Italian honeybees begins honey industry here.
New York City. Lithographers Nathaniel Currier and James Merrill Ives establish their own imprinl.
Charleston, S.C. Hinton Rower Helper, in Vie Impending Crisis of the Stmth. argues that slavery ultimately impoverishes whites in South.

See Double Eagle Gold Coins for sale. Click here!

Courtesy Akers: United States Gold Coins - An Analysis of Auction Records
Courtesy Bowers: A Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins


1857-S Double Eagle - Type 1 Double Eagles - Type I S-Mint Double Eagles

US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments

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