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1850 $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle NGC AU58 Ex.SS Republic


Out of an original mintage of 1,170,261, 172 were graded AU58 by NGC, with 75 finer (as of 1/2021). From the shipwreck, only 55 of these coins were recovered, with the majority grade being AU. In AU58, there were 17 certified, with three finer in low Mint State. Attractive yellow surfaces on a popular collectable date make this example perfect for a type set of U.S. gold coins. This is a type coin par excellence, one to be proud to own for many years to come. A specimen such as this is de rigueur for the sophisticated collector. Imagine how this piece would look among your other items of numismatic art.


We are delighted to present for consideration an example of the 1850 $20 Liberty Head double eagle from the tragic shipwreck of The SS Republic. Such a specimen is found only in premium collections of U.S. gold, and would be perfect in a type set of U.S. gold or shipwrecked gold coins. If you wish to create such a set, please reach out to AUCM for professional guidance. U.S. gold specialist Doug Winter writes, "The 1850 double eagle is a very popular issue as it is the first collectible issue from this [Philadelphia] mint. ... It ... becomes [difficult] to find in the middle About Uncirculated range and it is scarce in ... AU58. ... [T]he 1850 is among the best struck Type One double eagles."

      The Republic left New York on October 18, 1865, bound for New Orleans  with passengers and a cargo of $400,000 in coins, primarily gold $10 and $20 pieces. New Orleans was a bustling, thriving city, but due to the Civil War, "hard money" was in short supply. A hurricane off the coast of Georgia, on the fifth day, prevented the SS Republic from continuing on its voyage. That night saw her hull leaking, which resulted in the fire in the boiler being snuffed out. The ship stalled in the heavy seas, taking on water at a frightening rate. At 4 p.m. on October 25 she sank. All passengers and crew took refuge in four lifeboats and a rough and ready raft before the Republic plummeted towards the ocean's floor. Two days later, the desperate survivors were found by the sailing ship Horace Beals.

      The obverse of the $20 Double Eagle features a left-facing Liberty design influenced by Greco-Roman sculpture. A pearl-encrusted coronet inscribed with “Liberty” adorns her wavy hair, which flows down her neck. Thirteen stars that represent the original colonies/states surround her bust. The date is found below the image of Liberty. The reverse presents Longacre's exaggerated design, featuring a heraldic eagle, one that is quite different from eagles previously found upon our coinage. Dramatic rays emanate from the national bird, and a circle of 13 stars is found hovering over the eagle. Two contrived ribbons encircle the awkward creature, one of which the eagle holds firmly in its beak. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is split between the two ribbons. A federal shield is found on its breast and arrows and the ivy branch of peace are found, respectively, in its right and left talons. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and TWENTY D. surround the bird at the coin's rim.

More Information
PCGS # 8902
Grading Service NONE
Year of Issue NONE
Grade NONE
Denom Type N/A
Numeric Denomination $20
Mint Location NONE
Designation NONE
Circ/UnCirc Not Specified
Strike Type N/A
Holder Variety SS Republic
Grade Add On NONE
Holder Type N/A

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