American Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coin

United States · Purity: 21.6 carats · ⌀ 32.7 мм

$20 Double Eagle is a valuable piece of American history – a legacy crafted in 21.6 karat gold.

2318 лв.Buyback: 2032 лв.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagles are among the most famous United States gold coins. Besides the British sovereign, they were the most minted and consequently most widely circulated gold coins in the world.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagles are both a gold investment and a collector’s item. The $20 gold coins were the backbone of the United States financial system and were at the forefront of the country’s rise to become a superpower. Imposing though these coins were, most of them were melted down following President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s gold confiscation order of 1933.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coins are unique. As opposed to other gold coins of the time, $20 Double Eagles were massive containing nearly a full ounce of gold. The fact that they contained so much gold, and thus value, made them one of the preferred coins for global trade.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coins are money. They are exempt from Value Added Tax, and as such are exchangeable throughout Europe by bullion dealers and investors alike.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coins are the equivalent of savings. United States $20 gold coins are an ideal choice for any long-term saver who appreciates the security and stability of owning physical gold coins.
  • $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coins are an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. Gold’s low correlation with other financial assets makes sovereign gold coins serve as a portfolio hedge against market risk.

The obverse portrays the harmonious posture of the divine Lady Liberty. Her curly golden hair that elegantly flows alongside is adorned with a pearl-bordered coronet containing the inscription LIBERTY. Thirteen five-point stars that symbolise the founding colonies of the United States of America and the year of mintage encircle the bust.

The reverse depicts a symbolic version of the powerful Great Seal of the United States, an eagle with its wings outstretched that clutches arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The escutcheon, a symbol of virtue and independence, is borne on the breast of the eagle and embellished on each side with decorated ribbons that contain the text “E PLURIBUS UNUM” which is Latin for “one out of many”. Above the eagle’s head is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” encircled by thirteen five-point stars, again a reference to the founding colonies. The Great Seal is surrounded by the text “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the denomination “TWENTY DOLLARS”.

The California Gold Rush led to the mintage of the $20 Double Eagle gold coin  

When a fellow named Samuel Brannan ran up and down the streets of San Francisco shouting “Gold! Gold on the American River!”, little did he know that he would set off the greatest gold rush of the 19th century. However, he certainly did not complain, as he owned the only hardware store stocked with picks, shovels and pans between San Francisco and the newly discovered goldfields.      

As gold’s mystical allure has attracted mankind for thousands of years, word of untold riches in the hills and rivers of California set off a frenzy. Men in their hundreds, then thousands and finally in their tens of thousands were arriving in California in any way they could, as this precious metal was once again calling out and stirring men’s craving for quick wealth. The migration of people was so large that San Francisco, which in 1846 was a small settlement of no more than 500 residents, grew into a booming town of about 35,000 by 1852. By 1855, it is  estimated  that  more  than  300,000  people  from  all  walks  of  life,  ethnicity  and  age  had arrived in California.  

There was certainly gold to be found. It was not unusual for prospectors who had arrived at the outset of the gold rush to find gold worth ten, fifteen and twenty thousand dollars within days,  just  by  using  primitive  mining  tools  such  as pans  and  picks.  In  fact,  gold  was  so abundant that it started to inflate prices of goods and services on the entire West Coast. This was not surprising, as it is estimated that even by 1853, only five years into the Gold Rush, some 373 tons of gold had been found in California’s rivers and streams (worth $15.6 billion at September 2014 prices).    

As the gold from Californian began to reach the mints, it quickly became clear that the then legal tender gold coinage, the Quarter Eagle $2.50, the Half Eagle $5 and the Eagle $10, were not  sufficient  for  the  amount  of  gold  that  was  arriving.  It  was  against  this  backdrop  that legislation for the creation of the Double Eagle or the $20 piece was passed by Congress on 3 March 1849. Subsequently, the $20 Double Eagle, containing exactly twice the amount of gold as the $10 Eagle, was issued for the first time in 1850.  

$20 Double Eagles stimulated US economic activity

From  1850  to  1933,  $20  Double  Eagles  were  minted  continuously,  as  the  new,  rich  gold mines of California were ceaselessly supplying this precious metal to the market. In fact, the increase in the gold supply was the largest and fastest the United States had ever seen. The infused money (gold) had an immense financial impact, serving as an economic multiplier – setting off a chain of reactions, all of which accelerated economic growth.

Food, clothing, hardware supplies, luxuries, and heavy machinery such as steamboats for river traffic, just to name a few items, came into great demand on the West Coast. When a good or a  service  was  in  short  supply,  ambitious  migrants  hastened  to  provide  it.  For  example, manufacturing industry sprang to life to produce mining machinery, such as rock-crushers, mining trolleys and drills, steam engines, and dredging machines. To build these machines, lots of iron was needed and so an iron industry was created in northern California. A dozen foundries across the state developed to melt and cast the iron, powder factories were founded, and the lumber industry expanded as wood came into great demand as building material for houses and mines. By 1870, several thousand workers were manufacturing mining equipment in the area surrounding San Francisco.

To  feed all  the  newcomers,  the  agricultural  and  food  processing  industries thrived. Wheatfields  with  accompanying  flour  mills,  cattle  ranches  and  slaughterhouses,  vineyards  and wineries became highly profitable businesses. In fact, in 1847, California had no commercial flour mills, but by 1865 more than two hundred flour mills were operating, supplying not only the  local  market,  but  exporting  significant  quantities  to  Asia,  Great  Britain,  and  parts  of Europe.

The  volume  of  trade  and  commerce  in  all  sectors  surged.  The  need  for  transportation increased and consequently roads, railroads and ports were constructed. Banks and financial institutions were set up to provide financing; in short, the American West boomed. As gold in the form of  $20  Double  Eagles  flowed  through the  rest of the US economy,  it stimulated demand and investments, leading to the establishment of thousands of businesses throughout the country. The $20 Double Eagles would contribute not only to the economy of the United States, since they had a significant impact on global trade as well.

The value of the $20 Double Eagle and world trade

Compared with other gold coins of that time, $20 Double Eagles were massive – containing nearly a full ounce of gold. In fact, they were the world’s most valuable legal tender gold coin,  a  commanding  position  retained  well  into  the 20th  century.  Their  large  weight  and corresponding value clearly had a number of advantages: they were cheaper to produce and easier  to transport,  and were  also  favoured  as gold  reserves  by  governments  and  financial institutions.  

That being said, $20 worth of gold back then was a lot of money. For example, at the turn of the 19th century the average daily salary for a carpenter was $2.30, whilst a manufacturer in the wool industry received $1.42 a day. As a consequence of their high value, the $20 Double Eagle was precluded from being used for daily transactions; instead, it was primarily used for international commerce and as backing for US dollar certificates (which would be considered today as paper dollars).

Once the San Francisco Mint was established in 1854, Double Eagles were regularly shipped to  Europe,  Asia  and  South  America  in  exchange  for  goods.  In  this way,  millions  of  $20 Double Eagles ended up in foreign bank vaults, becoming part of their gold reserves. In the aftermath  of WWI,  a  considerable  amount  of Double  Eagles  were  also  sent  to  war-torn Europe as financial loans for its re-construction. The $20 Double Eagle became a trusted coin that served the global community for almost a century, becoming the most widespread US coin of all time. This trust – leading to its steadfast popularity – was based on the fact that, even though  modifications  were  made  to  its  design, the  dimension,  size,  and  metal constitution remained unchanged for more than eight decades.  

The $20 Double Eagle design

During  the  eight decades  of  its  issuance,  the  $20  Double  Eagle  coin  carried  two  different designs. Those minted from 1850 to 1907 were embellished with the bust of Lady Liberty and the Great Seal  of the United  States,  whilst  the  second,  markedly different  design,  artfully conceived by the American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, appeared from 1907 to 1933.

Liberty Head – 1850 to 1907

The chronicle of the Double Eagles’ design begins with Robert Scot, the first Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. A silversmith by trade, he was known as a great banknote engraver and his work was held in high esteem by leading figures, such as Thomas Jefferson. Scot was responsible for the creation of the original design of the Lady Liberty bust and the Great Seal that appeared for the  first time in 1795 on the $5 Liberty Cap Half Eagle gold coin. This design was later modified and applied to the new $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle in 1850.  

Until 1907, the framework of this design stayed the same; however, minor tweaks were made that included the way “twenty dollars” was written and the addition of the motto “IN GOD WE  TRUST”  in  1866.  Originally,  the  design  did  not  carry  any  reference  to  God,  but following America’s Civil War, it was argued that divine help was needed to heal the scars of this conflict. Therefore, the US Treasury began experimenting with different religious mottos that included “OUR COUNTRY, OUR GOD”, “GOD, OUR TRUST”, and finally IN GOD WE TRUST.  

The US gold confiscation and melting of $20 Double Eagles

With  the  United  States  in  the  midst of  severe depression, the  $20  Double  Eagle  naturally became the asset of choice. With people seeking to exchange all forms of paper securities, including bank notes, for gold, the financial sector and the Government itself experienced a run on their gold reserves. To prevent this, in 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the infamous executive order 6102 that mandated Americans to turn in their gold, receiving paper money in exchange. Gold coins that were stored in private or government vaults at the time of the order were confiscated and subsequently melted down by the US treasury in the coming years – millions of $20 Double Eagles perished this way. The fact that Double Eagles were extensively  used  in  trade  was  an  added  benefit,  as those  coins  that  were  tucked  away  in overseas vaults could not be seized.

 

The $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle coin was struck by five different American mints from 1850 to 1907. The mark of the mint (letter) is engraved below the tail of the eagle. Coins struck by the Philadelphia Mint are not marked.

Philadelphia Mint = No mintmark
New Orleans = O
San Francisco = S
Carcon City = CC
Denver = D

The design of the $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle coin stayed essentially the same from 1850 to 1907. However, small changes were made during this period:

From 1850 to 1866 – the coin carries no motto, and the denomination is written “TWENTY D.”
From 1866 to 1876 – the coin carries a motto, and the denomination is written “TWENTY D.”
From 1877 to 1907 – the coin carries a motto, and the denomination is written “TWENTY DOLLARS”

The combined mintage for all three versions of the $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle coin totalled approximately 105 million pieces during this period. The prevailing version we stock is from 1877-1907.

American Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coin Gold weight
Weight Nominal Diameter in mm Sample Weight in g Grams Ounces
1 oz $20 32.7 21.6 carats 33.43624 30.09262 1

American Liberty Head Double Eagle gold coin

United States · Purity: 21.6 carats · ⌀ 32.7 мм

2318 лв.Buyback: 2032 лв.
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