The Gold Double Eagle: The Most Famous Gold Coin in US History

With an illustrious history dating back to its original minting around the time of the California Gold Rush in 1849, the US Gold Double Eagle coin has become quite possibly one of the most famous gold coins ever minted by the US government. Despite its official face value of $20, the coin has achieved a market value far in excess of that. eBay offers affordable Gold Double Eagles for sale that cover the coin's entire official minting history from 1849 to 1933.

Size, weight, and metal content of the Gold Double Eagle

The Double Eagle has a gold content of 0.9675 troy ounces or 30.0926 grams. In 1849, gold was valued at $20.67 per ounce, hence making the coin at that time worth $20. This is why it retains its designation to this day as a $20 coin. However, the coin is actually made of a gold/copper alloy that consists of only 90% gold and 10% copper, giving the coin a total weight of 1.0750 troy ounces or 33.4362 grams. The coin measures 43 millimeters in diameter and is 2 millimeters thick.

Gold Double Eagle designs

Over the course of its history, the Gold Double Eagle has had two basic designs, the Liberty Head design and the Saint-Gaudens design. Here are the differences between the two:

  • Liberty Head Design: Of the two, this is the less in-demand design, and is, therefore, less expensive and less often encountered than the Saint-Gaudens design. Officially minted from 1849 to 1907, it features a Greco-Roman-style Liberty Head on the front side. She is facing to the left and her hair is pulled back, running down her neck. She wears a coronet with the word "Liberty" inscribed on it and is surrounded by 13 stars, one for each of the original states. The rear side features the Great Seal of the United States. Some versions have the words "In God We Trust" written on the back, and others do not. Some versions will also say, "TWENTY DOLLARS" on the back, while others will say only "TWNETY D."
  • Saint-Gaudens Design: Named after its designer, sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the front side of this version depicts Lady Liberty holding a torch and an olive branch, with the rays of the sun beaming out behind her. The rear side depicts an eagle who is also backed by beaming sun rays. This design was discontinued in 1933.
Can you find the 1933 Double Eagle coin today?

The Double Eagle was officially discontinued in 1933. Not only this, but 1933 was also the year that then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt required all US citizens to turn in all gold coins, gold bullion, or gold certificates that they owned. Congress passed the Gold Reserve Act the following year, which outlawed the private possession of gold coins for general circulation. Very few people were able to escape the reach of this executive order. As such, very few preowned 1933 Double Gold Eagles remain in private hands today, making them extraordinarily valuable. In fact, one was sold in 2002 for an astonishing $7,590,020.

Content provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice.