History of the $20 Liberty Double Eagle gold coin
The original coinage act of 1780 allowed for the minting of gold coins to include up to the $10 "Eagle." Although consideration had been made to mint a $20 gold coin in 1836, the issue was set aside until the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento, California in 1848. This discovery would change many things about the United States, including the face of its coinage.
So much gold was being assayed, the need to monetize the metal in larger than $10 increments was necessary. Although it was known that a $20 denomination would likely not be popular in commerce, the decision to make the "Double Eagle" was made in January, 1849, when North Carolina Congressman James McKay changed his legislation for the incorporation of a gold dollar coin to include this new, massive denomination. He even went so far as to say that he thought such a coin would be "handsome." Although there was usual debate in the House over adopting the coin, it was signed into law by President James K. Polk on March 3, 1849.
Designing a new Double Eagle Liberty gold coin
In 1849 James Barton Longacre was the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. He began the process of designing the new coin, but his progress in issuing the new coin was hampered by a long series of unfortunate - likely deliberate - occurrences. He was able to straighten out the problems that plagued the mint, and finally issued the new coins in production quantity in 1850 only after one single test piece had been minted as a "pattern" the previous year.
The design of the new coin was described as "routine" by many in congress when it made its debut, but the popularity of the coin then - and now - proves that "routine" could be just what the nation needed at the time.
Variations in $20 Double Eagle Design
The obverse side of the $20 Liberty double eagle gold coin remained steady throughout the production run of the series with only very minor alterations. The reverse, however, while appearing similar to one another with the heraldic eagle design,comes in three major variations:
The "About Uncirculated (AU)" grade
Coins are graded using a scale from 1 (poor) to 70 (perfect as-struck). These coins grade between 50 and 58, meaning that most of the original luster is still present, however there will be light points of wear at the highest parts of the design either through normal pocket wear or by stacking the coins together. All of the main - as well as most of the minor - design characteristics remain intact, and the coin displays an overall pleasing eye appeal.
Of specific note is the fact that the nomenclature used for this grade is properly "About Uncirculated." The term "Almost Uncirculated" is commonly used, but is incorrect according to all major standards of grading coins.
About Uncirculated coins are a very popular way to collect coins that are usually quite a bit less expensive than the same coins with no wear, but still have much of the appeal of their uncirculated siblings.
This Random Date 1850-1907 Liberty Head $20 Gold Double Eagle AU is proudly minted by the U.S. Mint. The United States Mint was founded in 1792 and manufactures circulating, collectible, and bullion coinage.
|Year of Issue:||1850-1907|
|Weight in Grams:||30.093 g|
|Weight in Ounces:||0.9675 oz|
|Legal Tender:||United States|