Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 1,042,500
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1443.03 (10/20/2019)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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1865 S $20 MS obverse 1865 S $20 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

When the Brother Jonathan smashed against a large rock and sank on July 30, 1865 off the coast of Crescent City, California, it was not only gold coins that were lost. That may be all that we remember today, but 219 people also slipped beneath the waves. General George Wright, who was to assume his new post at Fort Vancouver, Anson Henry, governor of the Washington Territory, eight prostitutes (or 'soiled doves' in the vernacular of the day), were among the more colorful passengers that lost there lives that fateful day. Additionally, $300,000-$500,000 in cargo went down, 346 barrels of whiskey, $200,000 in payroll for U.S. troops at Fort Vancouver, and more than $100,000 in jewelry and cash in the purser's safe. Many of the gold bars carried on the steamship were recovered between 1916 and the early 1930s. But only in the past few years have high grade double eagles been recovered and entered the numismatic marketplace.

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: 8/16/2019

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

1865 S $20 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1850 1950 2150 2300 2625 3050 3550 4350 6250 6575 8125 11750 18200 23000 32000 60000 - - - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1459
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 66

The chart showing F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 10/8/2019 1865 S $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---14291265142164141139248310911180589----1459
-----------------------
--------1----2-11-----5
-----------------------
Total---14291265142165141139248311111181599----1464
 ---0 %3 %6 %18 %10 %11 %10 %9 %2 %6 %8 %8 %6 %4 %1 %---- 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
8/18/2004 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 1924, 1924/Lot# 1879 $715.00
2/28/2008 NGC MS 61   David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 226, 232/Lot# 6658 $4,524.10
12/3/2009 PCGS AU 50   Bonhams Coins and Banknotes, 17760/Lot# 1282 $1,872.00
1/31/2010 PCGS XF 40   Goldberg January 31 - February 3, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 57/Lot# 2349 $1,466.25
3/8/2012 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2012 March 8-9 US Coin Signature Auction - New York Session(2), 1168/Lot# 4248 $9,775.00
8/12/2012 NGC AU 55   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(1), 131234/Lot# 24673 $2,850.55
6/15/2014 NGC AU 58   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/15/2014, 196/Lot# 196838 $4,229.50
6/27/2014 PCGS   Stack's Bowers June 2014 Baltimore, 6021/Lot# 2646 $2,115.00
4/4/2017 NGC XF 45   Heritage Auctions 2017 April 4 - 6 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(4), 1253/Lot# 16832 $2,232.50
11/2/2017 PCGS AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2017 November 2 - 4 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas Session(4), 1261/Lot# 17987 $3,360.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1865 $20 MS S
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base190723522401243326432807295830333216344739524591515860076685755589961551122360327504869673432
205523682412250326982857298330943293361541654780544162336975803511168177942582338065569410
00000029833094329336154165478054416233697580351116817794258233806500
00000030083155337037844378496957246459726585161333920077292874338100
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 58
Points: 3952
Owner: Hugh Stiel Rare Coins
 
Grade: AU 50
Points: 3033
Owner: G & R coins
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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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.
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