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.
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Three more gold coins found in Salvation Army kettlesMundelein Review, December 12th
9, a one-ounce Double Eagle gold coin worth approximately $1,280 was found wrapped in a $20 bill in the kettle at the The Salvation Army Waukegan Corps Community Center on Green Bay Road. “Someone placed it in our mailbox,” said Major William ...Read more
Mammoth effort: Couple built world-class ski resortTbo.com, December 7th
Stop in at the Double Eagle Resort and Spa for a fine meal or a rejuvenating massage. Further north on Highway 395 is one of the treasures of the county — the alkaline Further north, at Highway 270, is the junction to Bodie, a late-1800s gold...Read more
GoldSilver.org Issues Scam Alert after Fake Gold, Silver Eagles Surface on ...Virtual-Strategy Magazine (press release), December 5th
“The majority of fake silver coins come from China, but the Middle East is a huge producer of counterfeit gold coins,” Whittaker said. “Scam artists use real gold to mint counterfeit Double Eagle coins that can fetch huge premiums in the United States...Read more
Coin Collecting Strategies: Selling Your Collection At AuctionCoinWeek, December 4th
For instance, there is no need to sell generic gold coins in an auction setting. The auction commissions would be much higher than selling directly to dealers who specialize in this field. On the other hand, if you owned a 1932 Double Eagle, collectors...Read more
Holiday Happenings 2013The Mountain Jackpot, December 3rd
Creations Everlasting-Now located with its own street entrance in the Double Eagle Casino, Edy not only stocks ladies apparel, jewelry and merchandise suitable for gift giving, the store also boasts a tea room. Edy makes wonderful .... Gold Camp Bakery...Read more
Cash is king: Asian investors look to rare coins for big returnsEconomic Times, November 29th
For those who get lucky, one coin could be worth millions. The US 1880 "Coiled Hair Stella" gold $4 coin went for $2.5 million at auction this year, while in 2002 a legendary 1933 $20 "Double Eagle" gold coin sold for a record $7.6 million...Read more
Behind the scenes at Houston's greatest wine competition: How 2500 wines ...CultureMap Houston, November 14th
When all five experts agree that a wine deserves gold status, the wine is designated "double gold," which makes it eligible for the champions round. In all, 2,212 wines earn medals. All tasting is done blind. Each glass of wine has It produces the...Read more
1861-S Paquet Reverse gold $20 brings $176250 in saleCoin World, November 13th
An 1861-S Coronet, Paquet Reverse gold $20 double eagle, certified About Uncirculated 58 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., brought $176,250 at auction Nov. 1 in New York City. The coin was one of nearly 2,000 lots offered in four floor sessions Nov. 1 and...Read more