The Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin (or the Double Eagle) was designed after its predecessors, the $1, $2.50, $5 and $10 Gold Coins. The US Mint realized it could improve productivity with by minting a $20 gold coin. Thus, the Double Eagle was born. It would take only half the time to produce two $10 coins and with the same amount of gold. In the day, the new $20 coin was not typical for day-to-day transactions since this was a considerable amount of money. The Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin was generally used for debt payments to foreign investors or bank-to-bank transfers.

Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin Design – James B. Longacre designed this unique coin, displaying features of Lady Liberty donning a crown inscribed with the word “LIBERTY” on the front side of the coin along with thirteen stars to represent the 13 original colonies and the date encircle the coin. A magnificent bald eagle with a striped shield upon its chest is displayed on the reverse side of the coin along with the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” appear at the top of the coin. Three different styles of $20 Liberty Heads were minted.

Liberty Head Style I – The first style of the coin does not include the inscription, “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and the denomination is shown as “TWENTY D.”

Liberty Head Style II – The second style of the coin shows “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the reverse side of the coin (1866). Reverend M.R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, PA, initiated this change. He asked the Secretary of Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, to include the words. A variation of this style involved an alteration in the shape of the shield on the back side of the coin. It was modified from a straight design to a curved one and appeared in an ornate rococo style.

Liberty Head Style III – In 1877, the coin’s denomination was modified to read, “TWENTY DOLLARS” instead of “TWENTY D.”

Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin Minting – In mid-1849, minting of the Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin began. Two of the coin styles described were minted in December 1849; one of those is located in the Smithsonian. The coin was introduced into circulation in 1850 and almost immediately became the largest denomination of US coins to date. The Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin was minted at five various mints throughout its production.


Size$20 Liberty
Weight33.436 g
Metal Content0.9675 oz.

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