Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 175,155
Catalog: KM-74.2
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4360g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1206.76 (10/21/2014)
Diameter: 34mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1869 $20 MS obverse 1869 $20 MS reverse


  
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VarietyPlus®

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Description & Analysis

Q. David Bowers' useful Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins neatly divides the 1850-1933 double eagle series into six major types, three each in the Liberty Head and Saint-Gaudens series. The Liberty Head Type One pieces, running from 1850 to 1866, are the No Motto coins with the denomination abbreviated TWENTY D. The Type Two coins, from 1866-1876, are With Motto, and the denomination as previous. The Type Three coins, the largest and most plentiful group running from 1876 through 1907, are With Motto, and the denomination spelled out in full as TWENTY DOLLARS.

Numerous shipwreck hoards--the S.S. Central America, the Brother Jonathan, the S.S. Republic--are responsible for several recoveries of Type One double eagles that are, in many cases, in pristine Uncirculated condition. Notable is the fabulous recovery of thousands of 1857-S double eagles (along with various other dates), including many Gem specimens, from the ocean depths. Those coins were aboard the S.S. Central America when the ship foundered in a hurricane off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Today specimens of several Type One issues are widely available up to Gem Mint State, albeit for a price.

Gold, silver, and paper money circulated in the United States at par with each other beginning in December 1878, after the economic imbalances created first by the Gold Rush and then the Civil War. Double eagles circulated freely, although more so in the West, since paper money was favored back East. At about the same time that the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 encouraged more domestic use of silver, other nations were abandoning the silver standard in favor of a gold one. International bankers feared the United States might settle overseas debts in silver, and accordingly a vast outflow began of newly minted double eagles, along with older circulated pieces, usually shipped in cloth bags. Many hundreds of thousands of Type Two and Type Three Liberty Head (and Saint-Gaudens) double eagles were exported overseas, to be repatriated later. Such pieces were usually handled with little care and were subject to extensive bagmarks, even when technically Uncirculated.

While Type Three double eagles can occasionally be found in pristine Mint State, most examples are rare above MS62. Type Two double eagles in Mint State, however, are far rarer. Bowers says of the Type Twos:

'Mint State examples can be acquired of most issues, but nearly all are in lower grade ranges such as MS-60 to MS-62. Some of these are from foreign hoards, such as 1867 and issues from 1873 onward, and most are extensively bagmarked. ? Nearly all Mint State coins are heavily bagmarked, but several issues are often seen MS-63 or finer, these including the 1873 Open 3, 875, 1876, and 1876-S.

'Quality can vary considerably, including among certified coins, and close inspection is advised when purchasing. Gem Mint State coins with good aesthetic appeal are exceedingly rare, far and away the rare of the six major double eagle design types.'

It is interesting to note that Bowers does not even mention MS65 Type Twos, and double eagle aficionados will attest that the difference in aesthetic quality from MS62 or MS63 is (or at least should be) a long one indeed.

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


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/12/2014

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

1869 $20 MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1650 1675 1700 1875 1900 1900 2400 2850 4100 6800 11500 18750 24500 49000 82500 400000 - - - - -
$ 2200 - - - - - - - 57500 125000 - - - -
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 326
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 63


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
6/22/2005 NGC AU 55   Teletrade Auction 2056, 2056/Lot# 2283 $2,200.00
10/24/2006 NGC AU 55   Heritage Auctions 2006 October Dallas Signature Coin Auction #428, 428/Lot# 3238 $2,300.00
5/27/2007 PCGS MS 61   Goldberg May 27-30, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 41/Lot# 1711 $7,762.50
5/30/2010 NGC AU 58   Bonhams Coins, Medals, and Banknotes, 18301/Lot# 2281 $4,095.00
6/5/2013 PCGS MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2013 June 5 - 9 US Coin Signature Auction - Long Beach Session(3), 1186/Lot# 4839 $15,275.00
6/9/2013 PCGS AU 55   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/09/2013, 78/Lot# 118829 $4,015.00
1/8/2014 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2014 January 8 - 12 FUN US Coin Signature Auction - Orlando Session(3), 1201/Lot# 5538 $108,687.50
8/6/2014 PCGS MS 62   Stack's Bowers August 2014 Chicago ANA, 6014/Lot# 12039 $16,450.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1869 $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base71580089199010951327144615582352274032163486414149356007833899181639523771350095232279277
743830924102511721366148318222481289833063704440552926784886412077188532751740780613070
00000014831822248128983306370444055292678488641207718853275174078000
00000015202087261030573396392246705649756193911423621312312634655100
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 55
Points: 2740
Owner: davidmckay
 
Grade: AU 50
Points: 1558
Owner: mmcelroy
 
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