The 1850 Liberty double eagle represents the first year of production for the $20 denomination and remains one of the most popular issues for collectors today. Prompted by the California Gold Rush, the new double eagle was to serve as a convenient method for transforming bullion into legal tender in order to fuel the growing American economy.
The 1850 Liberty double eagle was met with much anticipation upon its release from both the public and the press. Preceding the production run of 1850 was an experimental mintage of unknown quantity in 1849. All but two of the 1849 coins were melted, and only the location of the Smithsonian example is known. Upon viewing the long awaited coins in the spring of 1850, the Newark Daily Advertiser called the issue “splendid” and even acknowledged the term “Washington” as a proposed pseudonym for the double eagle denomination, though this moniker was short lived. Praised for both its beauty and its utility, the new $20 piece saw extensive circulation, and as a result, is a considerable condition rarity. Though 1,170,261 pieces were minted, the vast majority of survivors plateau at Extremely Fine levels of preservation, leaving Choice About Uncirculated pieces, as offered here, and truly Uncirculated examples quite scarce.
Sunshine-yellow patina glimmers across both sides of the AU-58 example to be offered in our Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Baltimore Expo in March. Faint amber can also be seen across some of the highest elements. The fields exhibit considerable prooflike reflectivity, with soft, satiny luster in the protected areas. The devices display appealing sharpness and richly frosted recesses, with particular delineation noted in the peripheries. Even when handsomely preserved, the 1850 issue is typically encountered with numerous bag marks, though the present example is an exception. With remarkable eye appeal and superior technical merit, this near-Mint State piece represents an important offering for double eagle and U.S. type collectors alike.
This rarity will be presented alongside other significant Liberty double eagles in our offering of the Collection of a Southern Gentleman in our March 2016 Rarities Night session, held in conjunction with our Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Spring Expo in Baltimore. To consign to this sale, or any other of our auctions, please contact our offices today at 800-458-4646 to speak with a Consignment Director or visit StacksBowers.com.