Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 80,120
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1483.18 (8/25/2019)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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1871 $20 MS obverse 1871 $20 MS reverse
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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.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 8/23/2019

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

1871 $20 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1530 1550 1650 1860 2250 3000 4075 5250 6375 10650 17100 30000 48500 78000 - - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - 57500 - - - - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 287
Low Grade: VF
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64

The chart showing VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 8/20/2019 1871 $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base----57423343578246-13------283
------------1---------1
---------1------------1
-----------------------
Total----57423343588247-13------285
 ----2 %2 %15 %12 %15 %20 %29 %1 %2 %-0 %1 %------ 
1871 $20 MS Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---------11----2------4
-----------------------
----------1-----------1
-----------------------
Total---------12----2------5
 ---------20 %40 %----40 %------ 

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
8/2/1997 PCGS AU 55   Heritage Auctions 1997 ANA Signature Sale #175, 175/Lot# 7837 $1,725.00
4/27/1998 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 1044, 1044/Lot# 2155 $606.63
12/4/2006 NGC XF 40   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 116, 121/Lot# 2356 $805.00
9/17/2008 NGC XF 40   Heritage Auctions 2008 September Long Beach, CA US Coin Signature Auction #1116, 1116/Lot# 4117 $1,495.00
1/3/2011 NGC AU 58   Stack's Bowers The January 2011 Tampa Bay Rarities Sale, 70/Lot# 1579 $5,462.50
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
7/11/2019 PCGS VF 30   Heritage Auctions 2019 July 11 - 14 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Session(3), 1297/Lot# 7692 $1,560.00


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