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: $1216.82 (2/25/2017)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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1865 S $20 MS obverse 1865 S $20 MS reverse

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There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

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.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/23/2016

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

1865 S $20 MS
Base $ 1850 1950 2150 2375 2650 3050 3550 4350 6250 7250 8750 11750 16750 24450 33500 65000 - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer



Total Graded: 1412
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 66

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
2/11/2007 NGC MS 62   Goldberg February 11-14, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 39/Lot# 2524 $5,520.00
7/12/2007 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2007 Summer F.U.N. (July, West Palm Beach, FL) Signature Coin Auction #442, 442/Lot# 2874 $11,500.00
1/15/2008 NGC XF 40   Heritage Auctions Tuesday Internet Coin Auction #28014, 28014/Lot# 24920 $1,092.50
4/21/2008 NGC XF 45   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 240, 246/Lot# 1210 $1,265.00
12/3/2009 PCGS AU 50   Bonhams Coins and Banknotes, 17760/Lot# 1282 $1,872.00
1/18/2011 NGC Details XF Details  Teletrade Auction 2998, 2998/Lot# 1212 $1,412.00
2/22/2013 NGC XF 40   Stack's Bowers The March 2013 Baltimore Auction, 181/Lot# 8144 $2,173.75
6/15/2014 NGC AU 58   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 06/15/2014, 196/Lot# 196838 $4,229.50
8/6/2014 PCGS MS 62   Stack's Bowers August 2014 Chicago ANA, 6014/Lot# 12032 $16,450.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1865 S $20 MS
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 58
Points: 3952
Owner: ftrifilio5
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.
View full article >

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