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: $1244.59 (10/17/2017)
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.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/23/2016

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

1871 $20 MS
Base $ 1525 1550 1650 1850 2250 3600 4300 5350 6900 11400 19000 29000 47500 78000 - - - - - -
$ - - - - - - - - 57500 - - - - -

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Total Graded: 275
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
4/17/1996 NGC XF 45   Teletrade Auction 0833, 833/Lot# 873 $659.38
12/4/2006 NGC XF 40   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 116, 121/Lot# 2356 $805.00
11/6/2007 PCGS AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2007 November Dallas, TX US Coin Signature Auction #452, 452/Lot# 2296 $3,737.50
10/17/2012 PCGS AU 55   Stack's Bowers The November 2012 Baltimore Auction - US and World Lots - Live and Internet Only Sessions, 144/Lot# 5662 $4,600.00
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
7/9/2015 NGC XF 45   Heritage Auctions 2015 July 9 - 12 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Summer FUN Session(3), 1222/Lot# 4630 $2,820.00

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