When the California Gold Rush made the United States a wealthy country almost overnight, the federal government realized that it could use its new resources to simplify huge transactions by minting gold coins in large denominations. Because pretty much everyone still distrusted paper money, large payments were usually made in coins, thanks to their inherent value as precious metal. The largest gold coin at the time was the eagle (worth $10), which could make big transactions cumbersome.

Thus, in February 1849, Congress passed the Gold Dollar Bill, which authorized the U.S. Mint to begin coining $20 gold coins. Because it was worth twice as much as the eagle, this new coin became known as the double eagle.

Double eagles were minted from 1850 to 1933. In this period, the coin appeared with two major designs: the Liberty Head design (1850 to 1907) and the Saint-Gaudens design (1907 to 1933).

James B. Longacre designed the Liberty Head double eagle coin. The obverse featured a profile of Lady Liberty wearing an elaborate coronet. On the reverse was the eagle, with a motto ribbon on each side.

This design underwent two major changes. In 1866, with religious sentiment riding high after the Civil War, “In God We Trust” was added within a circle of stars over the eagle’s head on the coin’s reverse. This motto had first appeared just two years earlier on two-cent coins and became increasingly common as the century progressed.

In 1877, the reverse of the coin was modified yet again. Previously, the coin’s denomination was indicated as “Twenty D.” beneath the eagle crest. In 1877, “Dollars” replaced the “D.” abbreviation.

Other small changes were made over the years, but one particularly notable version was the 1861 Paquet Reverse. The government hired Anthony Paquet to make a few small modificati...

As the most valuable regular-issue American coin ever minted, the double eagle posed an obvious attraction to counterfeiters. After the Civil War, one method was particularly popular—counterfeiters would slice the coin in half, take out the gold, replace it with platinum, and put it back together. Perhaps amateur in comparison to today’s methods, these counterfeits were quite convincing at the time, so much so that the director of the U.S. Mint recommended that the coin be discontinued. These platinum counterfeits, however, have become collectible in their own right.

In 1907, the government released a completely redesigned coin, created by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the request of Theodore Roosevelt. The obverse featured a Hellenistic-style portrait of Lady Liberty in a flowing gown, bearing an olive branch and a torch. Unlike the previous coin, this one portrayed Lady Liberty’s entire body, striding toward the viewer. On the reverse was an eagle flying over a rising sun. Some numismatists consider it the most beautiful American coin ever made.

The first pressings of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle featured an unusually high relief. Additionally, because Roosevelt thought that printing “In God We Trust” on a coin was sacrilegious, the coin appeared without this motto. It also featured Roman numerals for the year (MCMVII), rather than the usual Arabic numerals.

In 1908, Congress added “In God We Trust” over the rising sun on the reverse of the coin, changed the Roman numerals to Arabic numerals, and lowered the coin’s relief. Because it was changed so quickly, collectors treasure the 1907 coins, especially those with the distinctive high relief.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1920 $20 Gold St. Gaudens Double Eagle Pcgs Ms 62 Low Mintage Sleeper Date Ms-621907 Saint-gaudens $20 Gold High Relief With Wire Rim Icg Ms63 Scarce!!1911 Us $20 Gold Piece1908 No Motto $20 St. Gaudens Pcgs Ms 65Usa Gold 20 Dollars Double Eagle 18571896-s $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Pq++1924 $20 St Gaudens Pcgs Ms 64 Premium Quality Gold Bu Saint Double Eagle Cac1884-s $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Pq++1924 Ngc Double Eagle, $20 St Gaudens Ngc Ms 63+ ** Free Shipping!1911-d $20 St. Gaudens Gold Coin Graded By Pcgs At Ms 63 Rare1927 $20 Gold St. Gaudens Double Eagle Pcgs Ms 65 - Gem Quality1925 $20 St Gaudens Pcgs Ms66 Beautiful Gem Gold Philadelphia Double Eagle Saint1894-s $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Pq++1900 $20 Saint-gaudens Gold Coin Slabbed And GradedUsa Gold 20 Dollars Double Eagle 18981914-d $20 Gold St. Gaudens Double Eagle Pcgs Ms 65 - Gem Quality - Denver Mint1927 St Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle Coin Pcgs Ms63 .900 Gold Piece1914-s $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Mint Gem Brilliant Uncirculated 1924 Pcgs Ms63 $20 Gold Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Item#249394971924 Double Eagle, $20 Gold St. Gaudens ** Free Shipping!1923-d $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Mint Gem Brilliant Uncirculated 1914-s Double Eagle, $20 St Gaudens ** Free Shipping!1900 $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Pq++Usa Gold 20 Dollars Double Eagle 1899 S1910-s $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Mint Gem Brilliant Uncirculated 1924 $20 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Gold Ngc Ms62 Coin Free Shipping & Insurance1908 Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Coin Very Nice! #04-101897-s $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin1892 S Double Eagle Au 1892 S Us Gold 20 Dollar Double Eagle Estate Must SellRare Key Date Low Mintage 1908-s $20 Saint Gaudens Ngc Au 58 Gold Double Eagle1924 Saint Gaudens1927 Pcgs Ms62 Saint Gaudens $20 Gold Double Eagle Us Coin With Truview Images1914-d $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Mint Gem Brilliant Uncirculated 1910-d Ms+++++ Saint Gaudens Twenty Dollar Gold Coin From Big Collection1898-s $20 Dollar Liberty Double Eagle Gold Coin Gem Brilliant Uncirculated Pq++1894 Ngc Double Eagle, $20 Gold Liberty, Ngc Ms 61 ** Free Shipping!1922 $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Mint Gem Brilliant Uncirculated 1860 $20 Gold Liberty Head1904 Ngc Double Eagle, $20 Gold Liberty Ngc Ms 62 ** Free Shipping!1900-s $20 Gold Liberty Head , Nice Coin!1924 Pcgs Ms63 $20 Gold Saint Gaudens Double Eagle Item#3468199 De1900 S $20 Gold Double Eagle - Uncirculated - Beautiful Gold Coin!1915-s Double Eagle, $20 Gold St. Gaudens ** Free Shipping!1924 $20 St. Gaudens Gold Coin Graded By Ngc At Ms 641889 S $20 Gold Double Eagle Ngc Ms 62 Liberty Head Coin No Reserve #01141197b1905-s Ngc Double Eagle, $20 Gold Liberty Ngc Ms 61 ** Free Shipping!1925 Double Eagle, $20 Gold St. Gaudens ** Free Shipping!1894 $20 Gold1922 St. Gauden's $20 Gold Double Eagle1904-s $20 Liberty Double Eagle Ms63 Pcgs Old Green Holder Ogh1923 Saint Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Extremely Rare And GorgeousBetter Date 1910-s Gold $20 Saint St Gaudens Double Eagle Coin "you Grade"1924 $20 St Gaudens Gold Double Eagle Ngc Unc Free Ship No Reserve #01188334b1871 S $20 Gold Double Eagle Type 2 Ngc Au 53 Rare Coin No Reserve #01142002b1897-s Double Eagle $20.00 GoldUsa Gold 20 Dollars Double Eagle 1900Exceptional Near-gem 1912 $20 Gold Saint Gaudens Ms64 Pcgs 1927 $20 Gold Double Eagle St. Gaudens Lustrous Coin.1904 $20 Gold Liberty High Grade1896 S $20 Gold Liberty Double Eagle- High Quality

Recent News: US Twenty Dollar Gold Coins

Source: Google News

Howard County golf championship preview
Baltimore Sun, September 28th

The county championship is an 18-hole competition scored under the modified stableford scoring system that awards one point for a double bogey, two for a bogey, three for a par, four for a birdie, five for an eagle, six for a double eagle and seven for...Read more

Thousands of Gold Coins and Bars Found on Sunken Ship
JCK, September 25th

However, sizable areas outside the main shipwreck still need to be explored, it said. Among the best finds: a garment meant to be worn around someone's waist, which contained 134 Double Eagle coins. The recovered gold jewelry is often found to be made ...Read more

Coin Collecting Strategies : How To Collect Type One Double Eagles
CoinWeek, September 25th

I had previously written on New Orleans double eagles in my book New Orleans Gold Coins: 1839-1909 (published in 1992 and revised in 2006). Prior to this, collectors had to rely on the Breen Encyclopedia and ... If you are taking the time to read this...Read more

By the Numbers: Inside Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
Washingtonian.com (blog), September 23rd

400: Seats in the gold-and-green-accented dining rooms (the theme of the colors rhymes with “honey”), spread over three floors. $160: Cost of surf-and-turf for two on executive chef Scott Kroener's menu. The dish is made up of a 16-ounce Chateaubriand...Read more

Salvagers Tally Up Treasures From Sunken 'Ship of Gold'
NBCNews.com, September 19th

At the time the ship sank, it was carrying numerous gold ingots and freshly minted $20 Double Eagle coins. So much gold was lost that public confidence in the banks was shattered. The loss contributed to the economic crisis known as the Panic of 1857...Read more

$10000 Bottles of Wine and VIP Entrance at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak ...
Washington City Paper (blog), September 17th

As the second restaurant to open in the luxe CityCenterDC (following the recent debut of Daniel Boulud's DBGB Kitchen and Bar), Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House includes houndstooth curtains, an elevator between the restaurant's three floors, and...Read more

Sunken 'Ship of Gold' Contains Bounty of Jewelry, Other Treasures
LiveScience.com, September 17th

At the time the ship sank, it was carrying numerous gold ingots and freshly minted Double Eagle coins, which were worth $20 apiece at the time. So much gold was lost that public confidence in the banks — already overstretched at the time — was...Read more

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House to open Sept. 19
Washington Post (blog), September 10th

It's apparent from the decor of the two-story restaurant, which boasts window views from every seat and a color scheme of white marble, gold ceiling fixtures and muted green banquettes. "The color of money," said Scott Gould, the restaurant group's...Read more