The Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin

The Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin or the Liberty Head Double Eagle Gold Coin is a beautiful coin that gives coin collectors the satisfaction when collecting the series. For one, being the first of its kind and the fact that it is made out of gold makes it valuable. As the largest circulation coin struck in gold in the US, almost all Liberty Head $20 Double Eagle is sought after among coin collectors regardless of their date and type.

After the discovery of Gold in January 1848 in California, thousands of people came to find their luck. Because of the spectacular amount of Gold found, the era of the California Gold Rush was born. Because of this, the Treasury Department of the United States made a decision to create gold coins. From Quarter Eagles ($2.50), Half Eagles ($5) and Eagles ($10). On March 3, 1849, another legislation was passed to create gold coins that are bigger in size than the previous issue. These were called the Double Eagle and has a denomination of $20.

The Liberty Head Double Eagle was struck from 1849-1907. It has three different types – three different reverses were made by US Mint Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre. The reason behind the many designs for the reverse of the Liberty Double Eagle was because of conspiracy.

The US Mint Director at that time, Robert Maskell Patterson wanted to replace Longacre with Charles Cushington Wright – a well-known medalist. Patterson teamed up with US Mint Chief Coiner Franklin Peale and went on harassing poor Longacre. He was forced to create three different designs for the obverse, and the three types of the Liberty Head Double Eagle was born.

The Three Varieties of Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin

  1.    Type 1 No Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle

    US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1849-G$20-Liberty Head (Twenty D.), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

Designed by James B. Longacre, it was first struck in the year 1849. The Type 1 No Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle Coins were minted at the Philadelphia Mint from the year 1949-1865. At the San Francisco Mint, coins were minted from 1854 to 1866 while the New Orleans Mint produced Type 1 No Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle Coins from 1850 to 1861. Coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint bears no mintmark while those minted at San Francisco and New Orleans had the mintmark S and O respectively.

The coin is made up of 90% Gold, and 10% Copper. It has a reeded edge, weighs approximately 33.40g and has a diameter of 34mm. For the obverse, Longracre used a portrait similar to the gold dollar issued in 1849 to 1854. He created a portrait of Miss Liberty with half of her hair pulled up in a bun. She was wearing a coronet that has the word LIBERTY inscribed. 13 stars surround her portrait in a form of an arc while the date is seen below.

As for the reverse, an Eagle is featured on the center with a shield on its chest. It is clutching arrows and an olive branch using its talons. Stars and rays are seen above the Eagle while ornaments surrounds its sides. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA can be seen on top of the coin in a form of an arc while the denomination TWENTY D. is on the bottom. The mintmark is found just above the denomination.

The following are the Regular Strikes of the Type 1 No Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle:

1850 – 1,170,261 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1850-O -141,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1851 -2,087,155 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1851-O –315,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1852 -2,053,026 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1852-O -190,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1853 -1,261,326 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1853/’2′ Overdate -1,261,326 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1853-O -71,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1854 Small Date -757,899 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1854 Large Date -757,899 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1854-O -3,250 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1854-S -141,468 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1855 -364,666 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1855-O -8,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1855-S -879,675 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1856 -329,878 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1856-O -2,250 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1856-S -1,189,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1857 -439,375 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1857-O -30,000 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1857-S -970,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1858 -211,714 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1858-O – 35,250 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1858-S -846,710 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1859 -43,597 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1859-O -9,100 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1859-S -636,445 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1860 -577,670 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1860-O -6,600 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1860-S -544,950 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1861 -2,976,453 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1861 Paquet -2,976,453 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1861-O -17,741 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1861-S -748,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1861-S Paquet -19,250 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1862 -92,133 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1862-S -854,173 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1863 -142,790 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1863-S -966,570 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1864 -204,235 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1864-S -793,660 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1865 -351,175 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1865-S -1,042,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1866-S No Motto -12,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

Proofs:

1849 – n/a

1850 -3 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1854 -2 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1856 –n/a

1857 –n/a

1858 -5 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1859 -50 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1860 -59 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1861 -66 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1862 -35 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1863 -30 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1864 -50 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1865 -25 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

Special Strikes:

1854-S -1 coin minted at the San Francisco Mint

1856-O -2 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

  1.    Type 2 With Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle with TWENTY D. on Reverse

    US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1866-G$20-Liberty Head (motto), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Type 2 With Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle was born after the Mint Act of 1865 was passed which included the provision where the motto IN GOD WE TRUST be included on the US coins. Longacre added the motto IN GOD WE TRUST in the reverse side of the coin and retained the denomination written as TWENTY D. The Type 2 Liberty Head Double Eagle was struck from the year 1866 up to 1876 in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Carson City.

Regular Strikes of the Type 2 With Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle with TWENTY D. on Reverse

1866 Motto -698,745 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1866-S Motto -830,250 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1867 -251,015 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1867-S -920,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1868 -98,575 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1868-S -837,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1869 -175,130 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1869-S -686,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1870 -155,150 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1870-CC -3,789 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1870-S -982,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1871 -80,120 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1871-CC -17,387 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1871-S -928,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1872 -251,850 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1872-CC -26,900 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1872-S -780,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1873 Closed 3 -1,709,800 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1873 Open 3 -1,709,800 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1873-CC -22,410 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1873-S Closed 3 -1,040,600 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1873-S Open 3 -1,040,600 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1874 -366,780 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1874-CC -115,085 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1874-S -1,214,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1875 -295,720 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1875-CC -111,151 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1875-S -1,230,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1876 -583,860 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1876-CC -138,441 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1876-S -1,597,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

Proofs

1866 Motto -30 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1867 -50 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1868 -25 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1869 -25 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1870 -35 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1871 -30 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1872 -30 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1873 Closed 3 -25 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1874 -20 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1875 -20 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1876 -45 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

  1.    Type 3 With Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle with TWENTY DOLLARS on Reverse

    US Mint (coin), National Numismatic Collection (photograph by Jaclyn Nash), NNC-US-1877-G$20-Liberty Head (Twenty Dollars & motto), size by Bonnie Mattie, CC BY-SA 4.0

From 1877 to 1907, the motif of the reverse was once again changed and updated. It still has the same obverse like the two previous designs, and still has the motto IN GOD WE TRUST incorporated. However, for the Type 3, Miss Liberty’s head was tilted forward and the denomination was no longer as TWENTY D. but as TWENTY DOLLARS. These were minted in Philadelphia, San Francisco (mintmark S), New Orleans (mint mark O), Denver (mintmark D) and Carson City (mintmark CC).

Regular Strikes of the Type 3 With Motto Liberty Head Double Eagle with TWENTY DOLLARS on Reverse

1877 -397,650 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1877-CC -42,565 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1877-S -1,735,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1878 -543,625 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1878-CC -13,180 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1878-S -1,739,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1879 -207,600 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1879-CC -10,708 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1879-O -2,325 coins minted at the New Orleans Mint

1879-S -1,233,800 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1880 -51,420 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1880-S -836,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1881 -2,199 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1881-S -727,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1882 -571 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1882-CC -39,140 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1882-S -1,125,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1883-CC -59,962 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1883-S -1,189,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1884-CC -81,139 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1884-S -916,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1885 -751 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1885-CC -9,450 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1885-S -683,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1886 -1,000 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1887-S -283,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1888 -226,161 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1888-S -859,600 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1889 -44,070 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1889-CC -30,945 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1889-S -774,700 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1890 -75,940 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1890-CC -91,209 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1890-S -802,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1891 -1,390 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1891-CC -5,000 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1891-S -1,288,125 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1892 -4,430 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1892-CC -27,265 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1892-S -930,150 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1893 -344,280 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1893-CC -18,402 coins minted at the Carson City Mint

1893-S -996,175 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1894 -1,368,940 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1894-S -1,048,550 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1895 -1,114,605 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1895-S -1,143,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1896 -792,535 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1896-S -1,403,925 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1897 -1,383,175 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1897-S -1,470,250 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1898 -170,395 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1898-S -2,575,175 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1899 -1,669,300 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1899-S -2,010,300 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1900 -1,874,460 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1900-S -2,459,500 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1901 -111,430 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1901-S -1,596,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1902 -31,140 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1902-S -1,753,625 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1903 -287,270 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1903-S -954,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1904 -6,256,699 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1904-S -5,134,175 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1905 -58,910 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1905-S – 1,813,000 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1906 -69,596 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1906-D -620,250 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1906-S -2,065,750 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

1907 Liberty -1,451,786 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907-D -842,250 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1907-S -2,165,800 coins minted at the San Francisco Mint

Proofs:

1877 -20 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1878 -20 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1879 -30 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1880 -36 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1881 -51 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1882 -59 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1883 -92 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1884 -71 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1885 -77 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1886 -106 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1887 -121 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1888 -105 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1889 -41 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1890 -55 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1891 -52 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1892 -93 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1893 -59 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1894 -50 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1895 -51 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1896 -128 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1897 -86 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1898 -75 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1899 -84 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1900 -124 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1901 -96 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1902 -114 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1903 -158 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1904 -98 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1905 -92 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1906 -94 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907 Liberty -78 coins minted at the Philadelphia Mint

1907-D -1 coins minted at the Denver Mint

Special Strike:

1906-D Special Strike -12 coins minted at the Denver Mint

1907-D Special Strike -1 coins minted at the Denver Mint

Collecting Liberty Head Double Eagle

Liberty Head Double Eagles are usually collected as type coins. When grading one, always look for signs of wear. For Types 1, the wear tear is usually found on the Miss Liberty’s ear on the reverse and the Eagle’s head and neck in the reverse. Even in high grades, Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles are often seen with bag marks.

For Type 2 Liberty Head Double Eagles, focus on Miss Liberty’s eyebrow, her cheek and the hair above her ear and the Eagle’s neck, the tip of its wings and the top of the shield on its chest as these are the areas where tears are commonly found. The same goes for the Type 3 Liberty Head Double Eagles.

The most sought-after and highest priced Liberty Head Double Eagles are the 1849 Proof, 1854-O, 1855-S 1856-O, 1856-S, 1861, 1861-S, 1867, 1869, 1870-CC, 1871-CC, 1873 Open, 3, 1875-S 1879-O, 1879-CC, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1887. Prices for the Liberty Head Double Eagles range from $1,320.00-$500,000.00 for regular strikes and from $7,500.00-$20,000,000.00 for proofs.

References:

PCGS, PCGS CoinFacts, NGC Coin, Coins.com, Collectors Weekly