If it weren’t for double-digit inflation in gold-rush mining towns, the Liberty Gold Double Eagle may never have been created. Despite heavy pressure from the west, Congress was largely unconvinced of the need for a $20 coin and was leaning towards a new $1 coin instead. Eventually lawmakers compromised with conditional authorizations to mint each coin that would expire in two years if the coins were not well accepted.
The Double Eagle was struck from 90% pure gold (21.6 karat) alloyed with 10% copper for durability. The gold content was set at 0.9675 ounces troy to equate the face value with the gold value at $20.67 per ounce.
Two proofs of the Liberty Double Eagle were struck in 1849 and regular mintage began the following year. The Liberty Double Eagle remained in continuous mintage for the next 57 years, yielding at last to the classic 1907 Saint- Gaudens.
The obverse of the Liberty Double Eagle portrays the familiar “Matron Head” that first appeared on the 1816 Large Cent, a coronet design with the word “Liberty” inscribed on the crown. Thirteen stars encircle Liberty’s bust and the date is inscribed below.
The reverse is an imposing heraldic eagle, based on the Great Seal of the United States. It is a frontal view with the eagle’s wings spread and head in profile. Clutching arrows and an olive branch in its talons, the eagle holds a shield over its breast with its beak. The mintmark is below the eagle, with no mark indicating the Philadelphia mint.
The first gold Double Eagles – now called Type I or “No Motto” – were minted until 1866. The type is distinguished by the absence of the words “In God We Trust” on the reverse and the denomination shortened to “20 D.” The motto was added to the reverse on the Type II Double Eagle, which was minted from 1867 to 1876. On the Type III – by far most prevalent – the denomination is spelled out, “20 Dollars.”
As a true representative of our heritage, the Liberty Gold Eagle is worthy of inclusion in any investment portfolio.
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