Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 768,000
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1216.82 (2/25/2017)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
Link to this coin

1861 S $20 MS obverse 1861 S $20 MS reverse

Expand All    Collapse All


There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

The first 19,250 double eagles coined in San Francisco early in 1861 had the special Paquet Reverse design. Once word was received to discontinue using that special reverse die, another 768,000 coins were minted with the normal Longacre reverse design. At the time they were struck, there were few if any collectors in San Francisco to preserve those coins, and virtually the entire mintage quietly slipped into the channels of commerce. The small number of Mint State coins known today, including the present example, survived purely as a matter of chance. For a denomination of such high value as a twenty dollar gold coin, the chance of survival is diminished further because of the significant face value of the coin. It was a lot of money at the time, and few could afford to have any similar pieces preserved for the future.

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


Loading... Working...

Use the scroll bar at the bottom of this box to view a summary of the NGC Price Guide, NGC Census, Auction Prices Realized and NGC Registry Scores for each grade.

There was no data found for this Coin.

Select Designation


Select Grade

*To view the Census details for this coin, please sign in or sign up.

Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/23/2016

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

1861 S $20 MS
Base $ 1800 1875 1925 2200 2750 3200 3500 5000 7150 14750 19500 34000 50000 - - - - - - -
$ - - - - 8250 - - 38500 - - - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer



Total Graded: 856
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 63

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/17/1997 NGC XF 40   Teletrade Auction 0920, 920/Lot# 1816 $474.75
1/7/2004 NGC MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2004 Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Sale #336, 336/Lot# 3109 $8,625.00
2/5/2006 NGC AU 58   Goldberg February 5-8, 2006 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 34/Lot# 1307 $4,485.00
1/1/2007 NGC MS 60   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 120, 125/Lot# 6692 $8,797.50
2/10/2008 PCGS AU 58   Goldberg February 10-13, 2008 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 44/Lot# 2544 $5,405.00
1/5/2011 NGC Details AU Details  Heritage Auctions 2011 January Tampa FUN Signature & Platinum Night US Coin Auction Session(5), 1151/Lot# 7248 $1,840.00
6/14/2011 NGC AU 53   Stack's Bowers The June 2011 Baltimore Auction, 92/Lot# 9736 $3,162.50

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1861 S $20 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 58
Points: 4694
Owner: ftrifilio5
Grade: AU 58
Points: 4694
Owner: Grandman
View the Registry Image Gallery

Related Articles

Bowers and Merena’s June Baltimore Auction Exceeds $8 Million in Sales

7/20/2010 — In the June 2010 Baltimore auction, an NGC-graded 1797 Half Eagle realized $138,000.
View full article >
September U.S. Coin Auction Highlights

9/8/2008 — NGC-certified coins take center stage in upcoming auctions.
View full article >
NGC Certifies Newly-Retrieved Gold

11/1/2003 — Thirty-eight gold double eagles of the San Francisco Mint have been certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation as having come from the final dive on Brother Jonathan, a steamship lost to the sea in 1865.
View full article >

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer