The Liberty Gold Double Eagle was released following the discovery of large quantities of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848. Issued for circulation from 1850 to 1933, this coin is the most valuable regular-issue American coin to be produced by the U.S. Mint. Major design changes were implemented during the course of the Liberty Gold Double Eagle series, and all versions of the coin have become increasingly rare, as well as highly sought after pieces.
For a mid-19th century coin, the Liberty Gold Eagle’s design can only be described as incredible, boasting exquisite detail and works of art.
The original Liberty Gold Double Eagle design was created by James Barton Longacre, the chief engraver at the U.S. Mint. In 1849, Congress authorized Liberty Head Dollars and $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagles, and Longacre was given the job of designing both the new coins.
On the obverse of the Liberty Gold Double Eagle is a left-facing profile of Lady Liberty wearing a coronet that features the word LIBERTY. There are thirteen stars around the edge of the coin which represent the original colonies of America, and the year of minting is under Liberty’s profile. The coin’s reverse displays an American eagle with a shield across its chest, clutching arrows and an olive branch. There are thirteen stars above the eagle’s head, with the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA above him, and TWENTY D below.
In 1866, Longacre’s reverse design underwent a change. The inscription IN GOD WE TRUST was added within the circle of stars above the eagle. Then, in 1877, the reverse of the coin had yet another design change. Instead of displaying TWENTY D as the coin’s face value, it would now show TWENTY DOLLARS.
A few other modifications were made over time, but the most notable was in 1861 when Anthony Paquet was hired to make the letters thinner and taller. However, these changes to the coin’s reverse led to technical problems at the U.S. Mint, and the design was quickly dropped. A small number of these coins were minted in Philadelphia and circulated.
In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt had the vision to make American coinage more beautiful than it had ever been before, and he believed Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the man for the job. At the request of Roosevelt, sculptor Saint-Gaudens redesigned the Liberty Gold Double Eagle Coin.
Rather different than Longacre’s design, the coin’s obverse features Lady Liberty striding forward and holding onto a lit torch and an olive branch. The word LIBERTY is above her head, and rays of sunshine are poking out from behind her body. On the reverse is an American eagle flying above a rising sun. Unusually, Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Coin was designed in ultra-high relief to give it a more sculpted appearance and featured Roman numerals for the year.
Like with Longacre’s design, changes were made to Saint-Gaudens coin over the years. In 1908, Congress insisted the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST was added on the reverse of the coin. At the same time, the Roman numerals were changed for Arabic numbers and the coin’s relief was lowered. Saint-Gaudens was not responsible for any of the modifications as he passed away before the coin went into production. The 1907 Double Eagles with the high relief are now extremely treasured items.
Each Liberty Gold Double Eagle Coin has been minted with .9675 oz. of .900 fine gold and consists of 90% gold and 10% copper. With a diameter of 34 millimeters and a weight of 33.4 grams, it comes as no surprise that the Liberty Gold Double Eagle is hailed as one of the most in-demand coins in the world.
Examples of these coins were struck at various Mints including Philadelphia, Denver, Carson City, and San Francisco, with Philadelphia versions being the only ones not to feature a mintmark. There were also some years when the Philadelphia Mint did not strike any of these coins, producing only a small number of proof coins instead.
As some individual issues are incredibly rare and have extremely low survival rates, investors, and coin enthusiasts consider Liberty Gold Double Eagle Coins must-have pieces for their portfolios or collections. Like with most beautiful gold coins that have a historical story behind them, these coins will become even more difficult to come across as time passes.
If you too want to add these wonderful gold coins to your display, Capital Gold Group can help make it happen. We specialize in certified Liberty Gold Double Eagles that are either graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) or the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), which means our coins have been fully inspected and approved for their quality and authenticity.