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Double Eagle Gold Coin

In 1849, the United States of America found itself with a sudden influx of gold. The California Gold Rush had kicked off the year before, bringing scores of people to California from all over the country, with gold reserves being mined that the country had never even known about. So what did they do with all this new gold?

They made new gold coins. The Coinage Act of 1849 bought two new types of gold coin into the American currency, to supplement the three that already existed. As well as the Gold Dollar the Coinage Act heralded a new Double Eagle gold coin, which, with a value of $20 was the most valuable coin that the US Mint had ever produced.

The original Eagle gold coin

The original single Eagle gold coin had been minted in America since as far back as 1792 – one of the original coins to be established at the outset of the American dollar currency in 1792. It was then the most valuable of all coins in the American currency, at $10, and, along with its quarter eagle ($2.50) and half eagle ($5.00) variants, was the only gold coin in American currency before the gold rush.

The $10 gold eagle coin was worth 10 dollar coins. The dollar in turn was worth 10 dimes ($0.10); while a dime itself was worth 10 cent coins ($0.01). In the 18th and 19th centuries, dollars and dimes were minted from silver, and cents from copper.

1849 and the new Double Eagle gold coin

The new Double Eagle gold coin would have been particularly impressive. The coin was 34mm wide and 2mm thick, which was significantly larger and heavier than the single eagle coin people knew well.

Like its contemporary $10 variant, it was minted from 90 per cent pure gold, with the remaining 10 per cent of the alloy being minted from silver and copper. It remained the largest gold coin in the American currency until its eventual decline many years later.

The Double Eagle gold coin significantly outlived the other gold coin that was released in the 1849 Coinage Act; the gold dollar coin which, along with its ‘triple dollar’ or $3 variant, was largely decried, and abolished in 1889.

Along with the single Eagle, half Eagle and quarter Eagle, the original Double Eagle gold coin was eventually abolished in 1933, when the then President of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, recalled the nation’s entire contingent of gold supplies. No gold coins were reinstated as circulating currency after America re-legalised the ownership of gold.

Design of the Double Eagle gold coins

The original ‘Liberty Head’ design

The original gold Double Eagle had a similar design to the Eagle coin, but with a slightly updated variation. It featured the bust of Lady Liberty, with a slightly sharper engraving than that to which its contemporary Eagle counterpart was treated. And of course, it couldn’t be an Eagle coin without the infamous American eagle on the other side, another dynamic redesign, with both sides of the new coin being designed by the then Philadelphia Mint chief engraver, James B. Longacre.

This original design continued to be used until 1907, with three sub-variations resulting from minor changes in the words engraved on the back. An example of a Double Eagle gold coin that used this design can be found on our websites, dating from 1904.

Saint-Gaudens 1907 redesign

By the early 20th century, the President Theodore Roosevelt had decided that the designs on American coins needed a change. The candidate to perform the exciting redesign was to be one Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The new coin showed a full-bodied Lady Liberty, in full stride – statuesque and beautiful. Where all the predecessors had simply shown the ‘Liberty Head’, this dynamic alternative showed the classical personification of American Liberty in all its full bodied glory.

The ever essential eagle on the other side was similarly dynamic; pictured mid-flight, above the words ‘In God We Trust’. Unfortunately, the new Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle neglected to mark the year of minting onto the coin, so it’s difficult for us to date this particular example in our collection, but we can tell you for sure that it was minted sometime between 1907 and 1933.

American gold eagle commemorative bullion coin

The Double Eagle’s smaller and older variant, the $10 single Eagle has found new life as a commemorative bullion coin produced annually by The US Mint. It’s been struck annually since 1985, and in fact features an updated version of that very same Saint-Gaudens redesign that was struck on the Double Eagle in 1907.

The Double Eagle hasn’t seen a similar revival as a commemorative coin. For the more dedicated coin collectors amongst you, however, the Double Eagle gold coin has made it into the US mint’s commemorative collection just once, in 2009, when this Ultra High Relief Double Eagle gold coin was released, celebrating 160 years of the original coin’s minting. Unlike the older circulating Double Eagles, it was minted from 24-carat gold.

Why should I buy a Double Eagle gold coin?

For those of you with a particular interest in coin history, the Double Eagle gold coins could well be a good choice. As the highest face-valued gold coin ever to be released in the American currency, it holds a certain commemorative and prestigious value.

As well as this, the fact that it’s never been continuously reproduced  as a commemorative bullion coin, unlike its smaller single, half and quarter Eagle counterparts, gives it a certain rarity that coin collectors in years to come may well pay a happy premium for.

Where should I buy a Double Eagle gold coin?

For the casual coin collector, the Double Eagle should be a fairly easy one to add to your collection; since there are only two variations of it. For those more interested in collecting each individual sub-version, you may have to find a specialised coin collector or merchant to trade with.

Luckily, whether you’re a passionate coin collector, or just enchanted by the magic of the Double Eagle, you can be sure to find the most competitive rates at The Gold Bullion Company.

All of our prices are updated automatically in line with the live gold price, meaning you can also be sure that you are securing the best possible value for your investment. Have a look through our range of American gold coins  or our full range of all gold coins on our website to discover more.

American gold coins

Gold Eagles

Gold Dollar

Name

Face Value

Years Circulated

Name

Face Value

Years Circulated

Quarter Eagle

$2.50

1792-1933

Dollar

$1

1849-1889

Half Eagle

$5.00

1792-1933

Three Dollars

$3

1854-1889

Eagle

$10.00

1792-1933

 

 

 

Double Eagle

$20.00

1849-1933