Why Collect Double Eagles?


Double eagles are another type of collectible coin rooted in a key period of American history – which makes collecting them interesting for both coin and history aficionados.

Would there have been a double eagle coin without the California Gold Rush? Very likely not. The double eagle, a $20 U.S. coin, was first minted in 1849, two coins in proof, after an Act of Congress authorized them. Prior to this there was neither gold in quantity to mint them or a practical necessity for a $20 coin. Double eagles began to be minted regularly the following year, in 1850, and continued to be until 1933. Before 1850, the largest coin denomination was the $10 eagle. Since the face value of the new coin was twice that of the eagle, it was called the double eagle.

Between 1850 and 1866 the first Liberty Head double eagles were struck at three different mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and New Orleans. These coins are available in presentable grades or collector grades, and there some quite rare double eagles that make them desirable to serious collectors.

In 1907 the gold double eagle was re-designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a famous sculptor recruited by Theodore Roosevelt to use his talents to overhaul the nation’s coinage. This Saint-Gaudens double eagle went through a number of changes as the nation itself shifted politically and brought new states into the Union. The design is considered by numismatists to be an extraordinary piece of art.

The double eagle is the most sought rare date coin on the United States gold coin market. Why do coin enthusiasts want to collect them? They are valuable for several reasons. First, they are the highest denomination struck for circulation. The fact that they are made of gold makes them both physically more attractive and desirable to those drawn to gold as a material or an investment.

Double eagles have also become more available in recent years because of recovered treasure from the shipwrecks of the S.S. Central America, S.S. Brother Jonathan, and the S.S. Republic, all of which were carrying large shipments of coins when they sunk.

Due to the period of time in which this first double eagle was struck, there are a number of ways a collector might go about collecting them in meaningful sets. Acquiring one coin from each of the shipwrecks is one example, or collecting representatives of all of the double eagles Philadelphia mintings. A coin collector with an interest in the Civil War could collect a war set from coins minted each year of the war in all mint locations. There are a long list of ways to personalize collecting double eagles.

There are so many different types of double eagles to collect that learning more about them would be advisable before you decide which ones would be most meaningful or valuable to your own coin collection. If we at Grand Rapids Coins can help you with information or strategy of finding these or other rare coins in Grand Rapids or elsewhere, please don’t hesitate to call. We are always ready to assist fellow collectors.

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