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1857 Double Eagle

1857 Double Eagle or $20 Gold

PCGS No:  
Circulation strikes Mintage: 439,375
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Diameter: ±34 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
Weight: ±516 grains (±33.4 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, PA) below the eagle's tail on the reverse.


In circulated condition, the 1857 double eagle is a relatively readily available issue. The date can be found in Very Fine or Extremely Fine condition without too much difficulty, and for not a large premium above melt value. Most of the coins offered at auction are graded About Uncirculated due to rarity and valuation limitations. While the S.S. Central America hoard contained thousands of examples from the San Francisco Mint, there were only two 1857 Philadelphia double eagles among the masses. As a consequence, the 1857 issue is scarce in Mint State, and very much so in choice condition. There were 26 examples on the S.S. Republic, which sank in 1865. The Harry W. Bass Jr. example is one of the finest known. It sold for $23,000 in the 2000 auction of his estate. The lone example that has been graded MS-64 by PCGS sold wholesale at the February 2006 Long Beach coin show for around $65,000.

Key to Collecting: The 1857 Philadelphia Mint double eagle is rare in Mint State, and especially choice examples. From the sale of over 5,000 choice and gem Type 1 double eagles from the S.S. Central America treasure, the 1857 projected into great market demand. Circulated specimens are easy enough to find.

Aspects of Striking:
Usually sharply struck.

Die Data: 1857 four-digit date logotype in thick, heavy numerals closely spaced. Top interior of 8 slightly smaller than bottom interior; upright of 5 slants slightly to right.10 Used on alt dies for all mints. This logotype was also used on the 1857 Large Date copper cents. Logotype position variations exist. On dies in which tfie four-digit logotype is punched more deeply at the bottom than at the top, the bottoms of the numerals appear overly neavy and the upright of the 1 in the date is tapered, becoming much thicker at the bottom.

Number of Appearances: 85 (19%)
High Grade Condition Points: 43
Average Grade: VF-39

Auction Records:

(12) Unc: Stack's 9/81; ANA 1979; Ivy 1/78; ANA 1976; AAA 6/75; Ullmer 1974; Stack's 2/73, 10/70; DiBello 1970; Atwater 1946; WGC 1946; Bell 1944

(19) AU: New England 3/79, 4/78, 7/77, 11/75; Stack's 4/30/75; Pine Tree 4/75; AAA II/74;Scanlon 1973; Paramount 5/73; Stack's 3/73, 12/72, 6/70; Miles 1968; Shuford 1968; ANA 1965; Ward 1964; Bell 1963; Menjou 1950; MC 1948

(28) EF: Stack's 6/81, 3/81, 6/80, 12/79, 9/79 (2). 6/79; Kagin's 4/79, 1/79, 9/78; Stack's 6/78, 6/77, 2/77; ANA 1975; Superior 6/75; Pine Tree 6/75; ANA 1974; Stack's 6/ 74; Gilhousen 1973; RARCOA 5/71; Stack's 1/70, 3/69,4/67; Kosoff 10/65; Walton 1963; Holmes I960; Lee 1947; Roach 1944

(26) VF: Stack's 2/80; Superior 1/80; NASCA 10/79; Stack's 2/79, 10/76, 4/76; Superior 10/74; Stack's 4/71; Paramount 2/71; Kreisberg/Cohen 11/70(2); Stack's 5/68, 6/67, 10/66; Bolt 1966; Paramount 3/66, 10/65, 2/65; ANA 1964; Golden 1963; Wolfson 1962; Golden 1962; Cicero 1960; Melish 1956(2); Farouk 1954

The 1857 Double Eagle is a very scarce date that is comparable in overall rarity to such other Type I P-Mint issues as 1855, 1856, 1858, 1863 and 1864. (However, it is not as "impossible" to obtain in Unc. as the 1863 and 1864.) It is considerably rarer than any of the 1850-1854 dates from the Philadelphia Mint. Most available specimens grade VF or EF although AU's and an occasional unc are also seen from time to time. Choice or gem quality uncs are rare but do exist; I have seen several at those levels. I do not know the whereabouts of any proofs and one has never been sold at public auction. However, since proofs do exist of all the other gold denominations including the Half Eagle and Eagle, it is reasonable to assume that a proof Double Eagle was struck in 1857. Whether or not one still exists is another matter.


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 Impend¬ing 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 Double Eagle - Type 1 Double Eagles - S.S. Central America

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

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