1850 Double Eagle - 1850 $20 NGC XF45 CAC. The 1850 Double Eagle is the first year of the regular issue of the twenty dollar coin and the first regular issue of the type. There is sufficient separation between the prongs of Liberty’s coronet and hair and between the lines of her hair curls to warrant the grade. The surfaces are original and clean for the grade, with no individually distracting abrasion marks or other problems. Traces of original mint luster remain within the devices. The CAC sticker confirms the grade and indicates that the coin is a premium quality piece.
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 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.
In 1844 Longacre was appointed Mint Engraver through the influence of Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. After overcoming opposition by the Chief Coiner, Franklin Peale, who was fearful that the new Engraver would interfere with his illegal medal manufacturing business using the Mint facilities, Longacre did well. He was responsible for creating many new designs including the Indian Head cent, the two-cent piece, the Shield nickel, the Liberty Head gold dollar, the Indian Princess gold dollar, the three-dollar gold piece, and the Liberty Head double eagle.
In its population report, as of September 2013, CAC has confirmed 16 1850 double eagles at the XF45 grade level.
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