Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
A coin valued at twenty dollars was unimaginable to the Founding Fathers who established the U. S. Mint in 1792, but the discovery of vast amounts of gold in California and Australia starting in 1848 soon depressed the value of this metal in relation... Learn More...
Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
A coin valued at twenty dollars was unimaginable to the Founding Fathers who established the U. S. Mint in 1792, but the discovery of vast amounts of gold in California and Australia starting in 1848 soon depressed the value of this metal in relation to silver. To absorb some of this bullion in the hope of propping up its value, Congress authorized the coining of gold dollars and double eagles in 1849. The tiny dollar coin went into production almost immediately, but problems in finding a suitable relief for the double eagle's obverse hub prevented mass coining until 1850. Chief Engraver James B. Longacre created a bust of Liberty wearing a coronet that was adapted for both of the new denominations. The reverse of the double eagle featured a rather baroque interpretation of the Great Seal, and coins of this basic design were struck through 1907. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added in 1866, and the coin's value, originally abbreviated as TWENTY D., was spelled in full beginning in 1877.
This high value coin was of the greatest convenience to bankers and those engaged in international commerce, as it required less effort to count and sort. Thus, mintages typically were very high in relation to those of the other gold denominations, only the half eagle rivaling it in utility. With large mintages come a great number of dies, and this series is proving to be a fertile hunting ground for varieties. Until recently, there was very little interest in gold coin varieties, particularly with respect to the higher denominations, but this is changing. A number of Coronet Head Liberty Double Eagle varieties have been assigned Cherrypicker (FS) numbers, and additional varieties of merit are recognized by NGC under its VarietyPlus Service with VP numbers. Basic subtypes, such as the No Motto and Motto coins of 1866 and the Closed 3 and Open 3 varieties of 1873, are recognized by NGC automatically.
The splendid double eagle design by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was introduced in 1907, and its production continued through 1933. Newer technology meant that the only variables in die preparation involved mintmarks, and several repunched mintmark varieties are known. In addition, however, a number of accidental varieties were created through doubling in the hubbing process. NGC has been aggressive in identifying those doubled-dies not already in The Cherrypickers' Guide, and these have been assigned VP numbers. Attribution of these varieties requires payment of the additional VarietyPlus fee. Submitters should remember, however, that basic subtypes, such as the High Relief and Ultra High Relief 1907 coins and the No Motto and Motto editions of the 1908 double eagles, will be attributed at no additional cost. The same is true of the popular 1909/8 overdate, as this variety is so obvious and well known that it may be attributed under the grading tier alone.