1904 Liberty Head Double Eagle a Highly Accessible Type Coin

Many early 20th century Type III Liberty Head double eagles are common, with relatively large mintages in the series’ waning years. Far and away the most common is the 1904, of which the Philadelphia Mint struck 6,256,699, by far the largest mintage of the series. That date also saw the series’ largest production at the San Francisco Mint.

Many of these double eagles found their way overseas, ending up in vaults in Europe and South America. While this generally spared the coins the rigors of circulation as well as ending up in the melting pots after 1933, bag marks are common as the coins jostled against each other. After World War II the coins gradually returned to the United States and are now regular fixtures in auctions and dealer inventories.

The massive mintage coupled with limited circulation guarantees large populations of Mint State examples. PCGS’ records more than 233,000 grading events for the date, accounting for roughly a third of the service’s reported grading events for the Liberty Head type. NGC’s Census records more than a quarter million, which accounts for a similar percentage of that service’s total for the Liberty Head type. Populations for the date in Mint State grades of 62 to 65 are larger than many aggregate totals of all coins graded for other dates. Certified populations at both grading services thin out above MS-65.

Its relative attractiveness, ubiquity, and accessibility in Mint State grades makes the 1904 a great selection for a type set. Examples cross the block regularly in Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ auctions, including four examples in our Wednesday, August 23 Internet-only presentation of Session 13 of the August Global Showcase Auction.

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