Double Eagle gold coin

Know the varieties of the double eagle gold coins: the less-known $20 Liberty Heads and the famous St. Gaudens gold coin. Learn about its lesser known types and various design types.

1861 Liberty Head $20 Gold Coin
1861 Liberty $20 Gold Coin

No other coin in the history of American numismatics is as celebrated as the double eagle coin. Coin collectors dub it as the most beautiful coin produced by the United States Mint. Because of their low mintage and the increasing gold spot price annually, the double eagle gold coins top the list of the most-coveted rare coins of all time.

The double eagle is a part of the series of the top American gold coins with images of eagles on the reverse.  The double eagle has a face value of $ 20 and notable gold content of 0.9675 troy oz.  (90% pure gold and 10% copper).

The minting of this twenty dollar gold coin is authorized by the Act of Congress in March 3, 1849.  On that same year, California becomes the gold rush capital of the United States. In 1933, the last year for the double eagle’s minting, America undergoes a massive gold meltdown.

Types of the US double eagle coin

The $20 double eagles have two major design types and several minor varieties.

$20 Liberty Head coins

The Liberty Head double eagles or the $ 20 Liberty Coronets are the lesser-known issues of the twenty dollar gold coins. They are struck between 1849 and 1907. 

Its sub-type or varieties are:

•    Liberty Head double eagle (1849 to 1866), this US gold coin has no inscribed motto and it has a face value written as “Twenty D”.

•    Liberty Head double eagle coin (1866 to 1876), the succeeding type of the $20 Coronet now has the “In God We Trust” motto.  

•    Liberty Coronet gold coin (1877 to 1907), aside from the motto, the last $20 coronet subtype has a modified denomination. From “Twenty D”, the last double eagle in this series is now changed to “Twenty Dollars”.

Saint Gaudens double eagles

St. Gaudens $20 dollar coins
St. Gaudens $20 dollar coins

At the dawn of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt commissions sculptor Augustus Saint Gaudens to redesign a new series of coins. The new twenty dollar gold coin becomes an instant hit because of its breathtaking design of Lady Liberty stepping down from the sun rays.

The obverse is bordered by a ring of 46 stars. Thus, the new double eagles earn their moniker St. Gaudens coins in honor of their brilliant designer.

The foremost variety of the Saint Gaudens gold coin is minted in a beautiful high –relief design. But according to the US Mint, it takes more than 10 strikes to impress the coin’s bold detail. This takes so much time in production. 

Banks, too, deem it’s rather cumbersome to stack St. Gaudens double eagles when counting coins because of their sculptured designs. These lead to the minting of two other subtypes of the St. Gaudens $20 dollar coins.

These are the varieties of the St. Gaudens coin: 

•    Saint Gaudens double eagle high relief (1907), only 12,367 pieces of the St. Gaudens double eagle coins are minted during this year. The first St. Gaudens coin does not have the “In God We Trust Motto”. The mint year is inscribed in Roman numerals. Its face value is written as “Twenty dollars” in all caps. 

•    St. Gaudens double eagle coins in low relief (1907 to 1908), due to the US Mint and banking sector’s insistent demands, the new $20 dollar gold eagles are now minted in low-relief and their mint year written in a more legible Arabic numerals. 

•    Saint Gaudens $20 gold coin with motto (1908 to 1933), with the new low-relief design, the Act of Congress mandates that the national motto “In God We Trust” should be appear on the St. Gaudens twenty dollar gold coins. 

•    St. Gaudens gold coins with 48 stars (1912), from 46 stars, the double eagle’s border is modified with 48 stars to honor the statehood of New Mexico and Arizona.

Double Eagle gold bullion coins

2009 $20 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle
2009 $20 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle

Ever since Roosevelt’s gold recall in 1933 prohibiting coin collectors from owning gold double eagles, a lot of numismatists want to get hold of these famous coins. 

In 1986, the obverse design of the St. Gaudens eagle coin becomes reincarnated in the new American Eagle gold bullion series. Double eagle bullion coins minted between 1986 and 1991 have mint dates written in Roman numerals. 

Finally, on January 2009, the United States Mint produces a new set of gold bullions – the high-relief Saint Gaudens twenty dollar coins. Though smaller than its predecessor, the new $20 gold bullion coin is still made from 90% gold.

I am passionate about the historical, cultural, and artistic aspects of currency. I collect coins and banknotes from various countries and time periods, focusing on specific themes, time periods, or regions that I find interesting. I also love to study the historical context of the currency that influenced coinage and currency issuance.