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: $1031.36 (12/1/2015)
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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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

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: 11/13/2015

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

1871 $20 MS
Base $ - - 1700 1850 2200 2750 3950 5800 7500 20000 34000 55000 81000 - - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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Total Graded: 252
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
7/29/1998 PCGS XF 40   Teletrade Auction 1072, 1072/Lot# 1804 $580.25
8/13/1999 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 1999 ANA Signature Sale #208, 208/Lot# 8222 $2,300.00
12/4/2006 NGC XF 40   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 116, 121/Lot# 2356 $805.00
1/5/2011 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction Session(3), 1151/Lot# 5262 $63,250.00
6/16/2013 PCGS AU 50   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/16/2013, 79/Lot# 118834 $2,706.00
9/25/2013 NGC Details AU Details  Goldberg September 22-25, 2013 September Pre Long Beach, 75/Lot# 2183 $2,300.00
8/6/2014 PCGS MS 63   Stack's Bowers August 2014 Chicago ANA, 6014/Lot# 12043 $44,062.50

NGC Registry

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