Perhaps no coin has seen more of America’s highs and lows than the $20 Liberty Head Gold coin, with the rarest pieces offering collectors unique glimpses into this pivotal time in the history of the country and the U.S. Mint.
$20 Liberty Head Gold Coin Reflects the Country in Wealth and War
When the country’s supply of gold surged during the California Gold Rush, it became clear that a denomination larger than the $10 eagle was necessary, and in 1849 Congress approved the $20 double eagle. As was often the case with the passage of laws or creation of new coinage, the Liberty Head did not reach the hands of merchants, bankers, and citizens without undue controversy. Issued for commerce in 1850, the coin enjoyed immediate popularity, which may explain its fifty-seven year run.
While the West’s gold wealth was the impetus for the $20 Liberty Head, the ravages of the Civil War would change its face forever. Seeking Divine Grace for the country and its coinage, Congress mandated the inclusion of “IN GOD WE TRUST” on all coins in 1865. Thanks to its size, the Liberty Head double eagle wore the motto nicely.
The $20 Liberty Head would undergo several more modifications before famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens changed its eponymous obverse design completely in 1907 as part of President Theodore Roosevelt’s project to beautify America’s coins—marking yet another saga in the Mint’s dramatic history.
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$20 Liberty Head Gold Coin Represents Core American Values
Regally depicting peace, freedom, and democracy, the $20 Liberty Head gold coin was probably a welcome reminder of American values to the citizens of the Far West. The obverse features a Greco-Roman inspired Liberty head. She faces to the left with a portion of her hair in a bun and the rest cascading down her neck. A coronet with “LIBERTY” inscribed across it rests on her head. Thirteen stars symbolizing the original states and the date surround her.
On the reverse, a heraldic eagle holds a double ribbon decorated with the inscription “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” One talon clutches the olive branch of peace and the other the arrows of aggression. The shield of the nation rests protected against its chest. The thirteen stars appear again, this time in a halo above the eagle’s head against an arc of the sun’s rays. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” borders the top of the coin and “TWENTY D.” the bottom; in later issues, the denomination is spelled out, and “IN GOD WE TRUST” is engraved in the halo.
Better Dated $20 Gold Liberty Heads Are Rare and Valuable
The $20 Liberty Head coin served as a symbol of the nation and a glittering piece of gold currency for decades. In that time the coin underwent transformations in design and was struck in various amounts in Mint offices across the country. These factors can influence collectors’ preferences and the rarity of certain coins. Liberty Heads that are particularly rare are considered “better dated.”
- Type I: Issued from 1850 to 1866, these $20 Gold Liberty Head coins were designed by U.S. Chief Engraver James B. Longacre. Note that the domination is abbreviated as “TWENTY D.”
- Type II: This phase of the coin, spanning from 1866 to 1876, is marked by the addition of “IN GOD WE TRUST” to the reverse in 1865. In 1873, the successor to James B. Longacre, William Barber, changed the appearance of the date on the obverse, but was forced to revise his design because the “3” looked like an “8.” The “8” or “Closed 3” versions of the coin are especially rare.
- Type III: From 1877 to 1907, Barber would alter the coin further by emboldening “IN GOD WE TRUST”; shortening Liberty’s neck to allow more space for the date; and altering the tip of the coronet so that it rested between the sixth and seventh stars.
Mint Locations and Issues
- While many $20 Liberty Head gold coins were struck by the U.S. Mint in San Francisco, they were also produced in the Philadelphia, New Orleans, Denver, and Carson City branches. The number of coins issued by each office varied over the years, making some rarer than others. For example, only a few thousand Liberty Heads were minted in Carson City in 1870, and these can be extremely hard to find.
Collect or Invest in Better Dated $20 Liberty Head Gold Coins
Since only small numbers of better dated $20 Liberty Head gold coins can be found on the market, they’re more in demand and valuable. If you’d like to learn more about rare $20 Liberty Head gold coins, contact Scottsdale Bullion and Coin. With fascinating histories and promising price appreciation, the coins are an excellent addition to any robust collection. Call Us Today: 1-888-812-9892.