Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 80,150
Catalog: KM-74.2
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4360g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1253.30 (4/21/2014)
Diameter: 34mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1871 $20 MS obverse 1871 $20 MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

Gold coins did not circulate on the East Coast, Midwest, or South in 1871. This was because gold traded at a premium to Federal paper money, which could not be redeemed for specie. This had been the case since greenbacks were first introduced early in the Civil War, and it was not until 1878 that gold and paper money finally achieved parity. In the West, though, Federal paper money was often refused, and large payments were made in gold coin. This explains the high mintages of San Francisco double eagles relative to their Philadelphia Mint counterparts.

In 1871, gold mintages were even lower than usual. Production of gold dollars, quarter eagles, three dollar pieces, half eagles, and eagles ranged between 1,300 and 3,900 pieces. The 1871 Philadelphia double eagle mintage was only moderately higher at 80,120 pieces, likely struck for a trader to pay for imports, or simply to prevent the 30 proofs from becoming instant, prized rarities.

Despite the small mintage, there was no contemporary numismatic demand for double eagles, although gold dollars and three dollars did receive modest collector interest at the time. Most surviving 1871 twenties are in XF an AU grades. Examples with unbroken cartwheel luster and clean surfaces are great rarities.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 7/2/2013

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1871 $20 MS
Base $ - - 2280 2410 2500 2500 2750 4100 5600 6750 9350 19000 35000 45000 80000 - - - - - -
$ 2700 2900 4500 5900 7200 10500 20500 38500 55000 88000 - - - -
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Total Graded: 250
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/5/1994 NGC XF 45   Heritage Auctions February 1994 Long Beach Sale #112, 112/Lot# 5549 $946.00
8/19/1995 PCGS MS 60   Heritage Auctions 1995 ANA Sale #139, 139/Lot# 7952 $2,310.00
4/17/1996 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 0833, 833/Lot# 873 $659.38
8/13/1999 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 1999 ANA Signature Sale #208, 208/Lot# 8222 $2,300.00
1/28/2004 NGC AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2004 January Long Beach Signature Sale #342, 342/Lot# 7336 $3,565.00
12/4/2006 NGC XF 40   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 116, 121/Lot# 2356 $805.00
7/12/2007 NGC MS 60   Heritage Auctions 2007 Summer F.U.N. (July, West Palm Beach, FL) Signature Coin Auction #442, 442/Lot# 2892 $7,475.00
8/15/2011 NGC AU 55   Stack's Bowers The August 2011 Chicago ANA World's Fair of Money Auction, 115/Lot# 9719 $4,312.50
6/16/2013 PCGS AU 50   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/16/2013, 79/Lot# 118834 $2,706.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1871 $20 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 58
Points: 2694
Owner: Grandman
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