Reconstruction Era Gold $20
1873 “Open 3” $20 Liberty Double Eagle in NGC/PCGS MS61
War, taxes, and the Gold Standard at Remarkably Low Levels
Gold coinage from 1873, and the Reconstruction Era as a whole, is scarce. However, we have managed to obtain a finite number of one of the more unique issues from this time as our Spotlight coin for this month.
This wonderful coin is from the only year of Reconstruction in which two double eagle variants were minted: 1873. Known as the “Open 3” variety, it is a vital component of any collection from this era. This is our third Reconstruction Era offering this year, and a chance for investors to complete their gold coinage sets from this period. And if you didn’t have an opportunity to purchase our last set, this is still an excellent and distinct rare coin that would complement any American gold collection, and it is trading at well below NGC price guide levels!
The 1873 “Open 3” $20 Gold Liberty in MS61
This coin is currently a phenomenal market value play, and is one of the most affordable opportunities to own a Type II $20 gold piece in Mint State. These coins survived the mass gold melt of the 1880s, the potential downfall of the United States Gold Reserves and the mass exodus of U.S. gold to Europe in the 1890s. They are also part of a much larger historical picture, with truly fascinating connections to events that shaped the American economy post-Civil War. To this day, these events still influence our daily lives and financial decisions.
In 1873, the U.S. was still reeling from years of brutal bloodshed in the Civil War. The death and despair of four long years of war would end up costing more than just the lives of 620,000 Americans. Our national debt rose from only $65 million in 1860, to a shocking $2.7 billion in 1865. As we have seen time and time again, the costs of war are always passed on to future generations. A corrupt pension system alongside expansions in taxation - namely income, estate and excise tax - defined post-Civil War political life until the 20th Century, as tax collectors became a big part of the federal bureaucracy.
Whereas gold and silver had previously been the lifeblood of the American economy and the basis for our paper money, the Reconstruction Era brought about changes to our money that have had crippling effects to this day. After witnessing the true fragility of the Union during the Civil War, it must have been hard to hold paper money in your hand knowing the government’s guarantee was the only basis for its value.
The Union had issued $430 million in paper money, with no gold backing, and demanded it be acceptable as legal tender for all debts. This practice was later overturned by President Grant in 1875 by signing the Specie Resumption Act, which guaranteed gold for the Civil War greenbacks. This proved to be only one of his many economic improvements.
Known by some as the “Crime of ’73,” the Coinage Act of 1873 was an economic policy that unfortunately abolished the right of silver bullion holders to have their metal struck into legal tender coins, and ended our national practice of bimetallism, in which a monetary unit was defined as equivalent to a certain quantity of both gold and silver. The Coinage Act made it harder to make exchanges between the two metals, and effectively put us solely on the gold standard until 1974. At the time, the $20 Gold Liberty was the best way to own a standardized amount of gold, and we are absolutely amazed, 143 years later, to have acquired a remarkable group of 39 Mint State coins from 1873.
About the 1873 “Open 3” $20 Gold Liberty
Why is it called an “Open 3?”
*Image courtesy of PCGS CoinFacts
In general, the type II Double Eagle is rare in Mint State, and the 1873 issue is of particular interest due to the two date varieties- Open and Closed 3. In 1872, Chief Engraver, William Barber proposed his set of designs to the U.S. Mint for the following year. He was asked to redo the “3” in 1873, as the original design was too close, resulting in two types being minted that year. While the “Closed 3” variety is a much scarcer issue, the “Open 3” is currently available at a relative bargain. A “Closed 3” in MS61 has a price guide value of $6,600, more than twice that of the “Open 3.”
Not only is this 1873 $20 Liberty a direct piece of Reconstruction history, more importantly, it is a phenomenal value in the current market. Take a look at the following NGC price guide data for MS61 coins:
We have the following available for you today:
30 - MS61 Price: Call for price & availability
9 – MS61+ CAC Price: Call for price & availability
Please note all coins sold will be NGC or PCGS certified. As with many of our offers, these coins will not last long, and they may not come around again for a while, if ever. Take advantage of this special offer by calling us at 800-831-0007, or by sending me an email.
*Prices listed include shipping, handling and insurance, but prices are subject to change due to market fluctuation and product availability.