Distinct and Distinguished Better Date Double Eagles Might Be Just Your "Type"
By Brian Zweig
Vintage gold coins are more than just a store of value; they are relics from a bygone era. They often reflect the time period in which they were struck – and the 1873 $20 Liberty Double Eagles are perfect examples. These rare “Type 2” $20s were made during a turbulent and transformational phase. Not only was the country recovering from the Civil War, but it was also experiencing a massive economic scare.
Now, today, you can own an Uncirculated coin from this pivotal era for a surprisingly low premium. For not much more than a “generic” $20 Liberty, you can own a scarce 1873 Type 2 specimen – in Mint State condition no less!
The decade following the Civil War was a turbulent time for the United States. As the name ‘Reconstruction Era’ implies, this was a period of rebuilding and healing. Unlike the era following World War II, in which America experienced intense economic prosperity, the late 1860s and early 1870s were characterized by harsh ups and downs. The recovery was anything but smooth and culminated in the Financial Panic of 1873.
This turbulence can be seen in coin mintages from the 1870s. During periods of stability and prosperity, coin mintages tend to flourish to keep pace with market activity. When conditions are uncertain and volatile, economic activity suffers and there is less demand for currency. Thus, during the turbulent Reconstruction Era of 1866-1876, many United States coins were struck in extremely limited quantities.
The $20 Double Eagles of this era are perfect examples of this phenomenon. In 1861, right before the Civil War broke out, the Philadelphia Mint released a record quantity of nearly 3 million Double Eagles. Production levels dropped as soon as the war began. In fact, the Mint’s production of $20 pieces would not reach the 3 million mark again until 1904! For numerous years in the 1860’s and 1870’s, annual production levels were down to 90% off their peak.
Double Eagle mintages were quite robust in years like 1856 due to a wave of freshly mined California gold, but they pulled back in the late 1860’s and early 1870s. Their mintages would bounce back in 1876, but in the decade following the Civil War, output was typically modern.
A Separate and Distinct Type
Not only are the $20 Double Eagles of 1866-1876 quite scarce, but they also represent a distinct and separate type. The Liberty (or Coronet) $20 Double Eagle is divided into three types:
- Type 1: Struck from 1850 through mid-1866. This was the original version of the design created by James B. Longacre. The reverse lacks the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” and the denomination is expressed as “TWENTY D.” The Gold Rush $20 Liberties we offered to you in 2015 were Type 1 $20’s. Like the Type 2’s, these are scarce and always command a premium compared to the common Type 3.
- Type 2: Struck from mid-1866 through 1876. Both obverse and reverse were subtly restyled; the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was added to the reverse, the denomination was still displayed as “TWENTY D.” The coins in this offering are Type 2’s. Much like the Type 1’s, these are considerably less available than the Type 3 and always command a premium. Since very few Type 2’s were recovered from shipwrecks, this is by far the rarest of the three types in high grade.
- Type 3: Struck from 1877 through 1907. These coins are similar to the Type 2 except with the denomination written as “TWENTY DOLLARS.” This is, by a wide margin, the most common variety of the $20 Double Eagle and is the ‘generic’ version.
While the design variations between the three types may be subtle, the rarity levels are starkly different. It is believed that just 6-8% of all $20 Liberty Double Eagles are of the Type 2 variety!
Today we have exactly 45 of these 1873 $20 Liberty Double Eagles graded MS60 by PCGS or NGC. As Mint State specimens, they show no signs of wear or circulation. We can only assume that these coins were stashed in bank vaults at the time of issue; otherwise they would have slipped into XF or AU condition.
Your cost today is $2,199 per coin, which is less than 10% over the current value of a generic $20 Liberty in the same grade. In other words, for a modest premium you can own a rare Type 2 $20 Liberty that is easily 10-15% rarer!
These historically significant 1873 $20s should trade for a much higher premium – and have many times in the past. Today, however, these better dates can be grabbed for a miniscule premium.
Take advantage of this opportunity and add these 1873 $20 Liberties to your collection or portfolio. These Uncirculated pieces are significantly rarer, struck during the Reconstruction Era, minted the exact same year as the Financial Panic of 1873, and priced at a touch more than a common MS60 $20 Liberty.
1873 $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle in MS60
$2,199 per coin*
Buy 3 or more for just $2,149 per coin*
We think other clients will agree that these are outstanding value, so please reach out before these 45 coins disappear! Take advantage of this special offer by calling us at 800-831-0007, or by email at email@example.com.
*Prices subject to change based on market fluctuation and product availability. Prices reflected are for cash, check, or bank wire. Free shipping, handling, and insurance are available for all quantities ordered. All Spotlight coins are graded and slabbed, but we cannot guarantee which grading service will be used. Offer expires Friday, June 19th, 2020, or while supplies last.