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LIBERTY HEAD DOUBLE EALGES (1849-1907)

Type 1 Double Eagles - Without Motto on Reverse (1849-1866)

1850 Double Eagle
 
Longacre’s Liberty Head Type 1 Double Eagle (1849-1866): James Barton Longacre designed the pattern for the Twenty Dollar 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 Double Eagle 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 Double Eagle 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 mint mark is between the tail feathers and the N of TWENTY.

The Double Eagles were minted in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco. In total there were 23,526,676 business strikes. The largest mintage was in 1851 with 2,087,155, and the lowest was 1856-O with 2,250 (not counting the single pattern coin that was struck in 1849).

It is interesting to note that until the discovery of the shipwrecked S.S. Central America, 1850’s Double Eagles in gem condition were virtually unavailable. The ship, originally called the S.S. George Law, was a United States mail steamship. In 1857 it sank off the coast of the Carolinas because of a huge hurricane. It was a three-mast, side-wheel steamship that traveled between Panama and New York. The journey took approximately 21 days. In the five years prior to its sinking, it has been estimated that the Central America carried about $150 million worth of gold or one-third of all of the gold mined in California. The ship was 272 feet long and had 578 passengers and crew on board. It also had on board over 35,000 pieces of mail and gold bars, nuggets, dust, and 5200 newly minted San Francisco gold coins. The loss of the Central America triggered the “Panic of 1857,” which was actually caused by bank instability and generally poor economic conditions.

In 1985, the Columbus-America Discovery Group raised ten million dollars and began to search for the wreck. They found it at a depth of 8,500 feet off the coast of South Carolina. It is estimated that the total coins, ingots, and gold bars were worth more than one hundred million dollars.

Now Mint the state 1857-S Double Eagle as well as other dates from the Central America are available today encapsulated and authenticated by the two major grading services.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 33.436 grams (516 grains) (1.075 troy ounces )
Diameter: 34 millimeters
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper

Gold Content: 30.093 grams (464.4 grains) (0.9675 troy ounces)

DATE NOTES
1849 Double Eagle
The only known example is in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. A second example may be in private hands.
1850 Double Eagle
First year for both regular issue and denomination; common up to AU58; rare above MS62; the finest certified are 2 in MS65; 53 certified from the Republic. 23 were found in the wreck of the Central America.1850 $20 Double Eagle NGC AU58 SS Republic
1850-O Double Eagle
Usually found in circulated grades with weak strikes; only 6 have are certified in Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS62 example. 10 certified from the Republic. 1 was found in wreck of the Central America.
1851 Double Eagle
Usually found in low circulated grades; rare above MS62; the finest circulated are 4 in MS64. 49 certified from the Republic. 33 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1851-O Double Eagle
Usually seen in VF to XF grades; rare in Mint State with only 28 certified, the finest of which is a single MS63 example. 14 certified from the Republic. 8 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1852 Double Eagle
Common in grades up to AU58; rare above MS62; the finest certified is a single MS65 example. Also found with an 1852/1852 overdate, the finest certified are 2 in MS61. 93 certified from the Republic. 32 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1852-O Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; rare in Mint State grades with only 28 certified, the finest of which is a single MS65 example. 17 certified from the Republic. 4 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1853 Double Eagle
Common in circulated grades up to AU58; rare above MS62; the finest certified is a single MS65 example. 52 certified from the Republic. 28 were found in the wreck of the Central America. Look for the rare 1853/2 overdate.
1853-O Double Eagle
Available in VF to XF; rare in Mint State with only 3 certified in Uncirculated condition, the finest of which is a single MS63 example; usually found with weakness in centers; sometimes with prooflike surfaces. 6 certified from the Republic. 2 were found in the wreck of the Central America. 1853-O $20 Double Eagle PCGS AU53
1854 Double Eagle
Found with Small and Large Dates. The Small Date is common in grades up to AU58; only 32 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS65 example. 30 certified from the Republic. 20 were found in the wreck of the Central America. Also found with an overdate 1854/1854. 15 overdates have been certified, the finest of which is an MS61. Only 10 Large Dates have been certified in Mint State, the finest of which are 2 in MS64. 3 certified from the Republic. 1854 $20 NGC AU55
1854-O Double Eagle
Low mintage coin; only about 37 or 38 are known today; most examples are in VF or XF condition; the finest certified are 4 in AU58. 1 certified from the Republic.
1854-S Double Eagle
First year of gold production at the San Francisco Mint; 200 to 300 found in the wreckage of the Yankee Blade; the finest certified are 3 in MS65; 5 certified from the Republic. 25 were found in the wreck of the Central America, and 1 was certified. Also seen with Broken A, Open A, and Closed A.
1855 Double Eagle
Common in low grades; rare in Mint State with only 33 examples certified, the finest of which are 2 in MS64. 17 certified from the Republic. 7 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1855-O Double Eagle
Low mintage, rare in all grades; only 92 have been certified in total for all conditions; the finest certified is a single MS61 example. 3 certified from the Republic. 1855-O $20 Double Eagle NGC AU53
1855-S Double Eagle
Usually found in VF or XF condition; the finest certified is a single MSMS66 example; many pieces found in shipwrecks; 57 found on the Republic; 338 found on the wreck of the Central America.
1856 Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; rare in Mint State; the finest certified are 4 in MS63; 15 certified from the Republic. 6 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1856-O Double Eagle
Key date; only approximately 35 known in all grades; the finest certified are 4 in AU58. 1 piece has been certified Specimen 63 by NGC.
1856-S Double Eagle
Common in grades up to AU58. 1,153 pieces found on the wreck of the Central America; the finest certified are 2 in MS66. 59 have been certified from the Republic.
1857 Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; the finest certified are 3 in MS64. 20 have been certified from the Republic. 2 were found in the wreck of the Central America.
1857-O Double Eagle
Usually found in VF to XF condition; rare in Mint State; sometimes with prooflike surfaces; often with weak mintmark; only 6 have been certified Mint State, the finest of which are 2 in MS63; 2 have been certified from the Republic. 1857-O $20 NGC AU55, 1857-O $20 Double Eagle NGC AU50
1857-S Double Eagle
Common in grades up to MS66; 5,402 found on the shipwreck Central America; the finest certified are 11 in MS67; 8 different varieties have been identified; 81 have been certified from the Republic and 122 from the Central America. This date is included in 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. 1857-S $20 NGC AU58
1858 Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; scarce in Mint State; the finest certified is a single MS64 example. 6 have been certified from the Republic.
1858-O Double Eagle
Available in VF to XF; only 6 have been certified in Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS63 example. Also seen with prooflike surfaces. 6 have been certified from the Republic.
1858-S Double Eagle
Most are found in lower grades with heavy abrasion marks; rare in Mint State with only 43 certified, the finest of which are 2 in MS63. 59 have been certified from the Republic.
1859 Double Eagle
Scarce in all grades; usually seen VF to XF; only 10 certified in Mint State grades, the finest of which are 2 in MS62. 1 has been certified from the Republic.
1859-O Double Eagle
Low mintage; rare in all grades; approximately 85 to 90 known; usually seen in VF to XF; only 2 are certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MSPL61 example. 3 have been certified from the Republic.
1859-S Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; rare in Mint State; the finest certified is a single MS63 example. Also seen with double die obverse; 61 have been certified from the Republic, 1 from the Brother Jonathan.
1860 Double Eagle
Available in grades up to MS62; rare in higher Mint State grades; the finest certified are 2 in MS65. 82 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 9 proofs are known.
1860-O Double Eagle
Low mintage; rare in all grades; none have been certified Mint State; the finest certified are 13 in AU58; 1 has been certified from the Republic.
1860-S Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; rare in Mint State; the finest certified is a single MS64 example; 64 have been certified from the Republic, 1 from the Brother Jonathan. 1860-S $20 NGC AU58
1861 Double Eagle
Common date in most grades; rare in MS64 and above; the finest certified is a single MS67 example; 317 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 6 proofs are known. Also seen with prooflike finish; only 3 examples are known of the variety with a reverse designed by Anthony Paquet; the finest certified is a single MS67 example.
1861-O Double Eagle
Rare in all grades; struck by federal government, the state of Louisiana, and the CSA; fewer than 200 coins known in total; exceedingly rare in Mint State with only 6 certified, the finest of which is a single MS61 example. 2 have been certified from the Republic. 1861-O $20 Double Eagle PCGS XF45
1861-S Double Eagle
Available in grades up to AU58; rare in Mint State; the finest certified are 2 in MS63; 85 have been certified from the Republic, and 5 are from the Brother Jonathan. A small proportion of this mintage bears a reverse designed by Anthony Paquet. The finest certified are 11 in AU58. 1861-S $20 PCGS MS62
1862 Double Eagle
Rare in all grades; only 25 certified Mint State, the finest of which is a single MS64 example; 7 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 11 proofs are known.
1862-S Double Eagle
Usually seen in VF to XF condition; rare in Mint State; the finest certified are 6 in MS63; 118 have been certified from the Republic. 17 have been certified from the Brother Jonathan. 1862-S $20 Double Eagle SS Republic NGC AU55
1863 Double Eagle
Scarce in circulated grades; rare in Mint State; only 39 have been certified Uncirculated, the finest of which is a single MS64 example; 24 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 11 proofs are known. 1863 $20 Double Eagle NGC AU53, 1863 $20 Double Eagle NGC AU58
1863-S Double Eagle
Available in low grades; scarce in Mint State; the finest certified are 4 in MS64. 1863-S $20 NGC MS61, 172 have been certified from the Republic. 23 have been certified from the Brother Jonathan. 1863-S $20 NGC MS61, 1863-S SS Republic $20 NGC MS61
1864 Double Eagle
Scarce in all grades; rare in Mint State with only 51 certified Uncirculated, the finest of which is a single MS65 example; 27 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 13 proofs are known.
1864-S Double Eagle
Available in grades up to MS62; rare in higher Mint State grades; the finest certified is a single MS65 example. 154 have been certified from the Republic. 28 have been certified from the Brother Jonathan.
1865 Double Eagle
Available in grades up to MS65; usually seen with excellent luster; the finest certified are 2 in MS66; 289 have been certified from the Republic. Approximately 10 proofs are known.
1865-S Double Eagle
Available in grades up to MS65; the finest certified are 10 in MS66; 239 have been certified from the Republic. 192 have been certified from the Brother Jonathan. 1865-S $20 Brother Jonathan Shipwreck PCGS MS64
1866-S Double Eagle
Rare in all grades; exceedingly rare in Mint State with only 4 certified, the finest of which is a single MS62 example. 1866-S $20 With Motto NGC AU58


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Liberty Head Double Eagles 1849-1907, Type 1 Double Eagles

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