1850 $20 (1850 Double Eagle) PCGS AU53. Type 1 Double Eagle. This lightly circulated, Type 1 1850 Double Eagle has a sharp strike and remaining mint luster in the protected areas on both sides. The stars’ centers, the hair details and the reverse motifs are complete for the grade. The muted luster glows like embers from a fire.
The double eagle was the government’s response to the large amount of new gold from California. They also felt that it would be useful for large commercial transactions and that it would facilitate foreign trade.
Longacre’s design 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 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.
James Longacre created the design for the double eagle, which was an original work that lasted until well into the twentieth century. Much of his work showed his excellent sense of proportion. Although criticized for creating blundered dies, most likely those were done by Chief Coiner and nemesis, Franklin Peale. Peale opposed Longacre’s appointment as Chief Engraver because he felt that Longacre would interfere with the profitable medal-making business that he ran using the mint facilities.
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