1864 Coronet $20 Double Eagle

Despite a raging civil war and widespread coin hoarding, a total of 204,235 business strike $20 double eagles were produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1864. Nearly all were released into circulation, but many sidestepped U.S. commerce by making a one-way journey overseas, where evidence suggests a high percentage of them met their fate in melting pots.(1)

Of the original 1864 double eagle mintage, not even 0.3% are thought to be extant.(2) Thus, the survivorship rate for the 1864 is much less than other rare double eagles. For example, the much higher acclaimed 1854-O has a survivorship of 1.2%. The 1870-CC is at 1.1%.(3)

The lack of collector enthusiasm at the time of its release and many years thereafter may explain the dismal survivorship of the 1864 double eagle. The coin was viewed as ordinary and boring, providing little motivation for contemporary collectors to set aside examples. Furthermore, as was true of all double eagles at that time, the high face value of even one coin made it financially challenging to start building a set.(4)

Decades later, when numismatists began admiring double eagles, the 1864 and a few other dates from the Coronet $20 series had mostly vanished.

The supply of 1864 double eagles got a surprise boost with the 2003 discovery of the S.S. Republic shipwreck. The sidewheel steamer sank in October 1865 off the coast of Georgia during a hurricane. The ship was carrying $400,000 in U.S. coins, mostly $10 eagles and $20 double eagles, bound for New Orleans to assist the economic recovery of the South after the Civil War.

A total of 51,000 coins were brought to the surface, including 42 examples of the 1864 Philly double eagle. When the heretofore unknown pieces hit the marketplace, the additional supply was quickly absorbed by the growing pool of double eagle collectors.

Unless there is a large hidden hoard someday waiting to be unearthed, expect the 1864 Coronet double eagle to continue its winning ways far into the future.

Estimated survivors in all grades: 589
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
PCGS Rarity Scale: 5.8
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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1864 Coronet $20 double eagle pics 1864 Coronet $20 double eagle values
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Last updated 9-13-23
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1. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1864 Liberty Head Double Eagle.  Apr 2022 Auction.

2. PCGS.  1864 $20 (Regular Strike).

3. PCGS.  Liberty Head $20.

4. Heritage Auctions.  1864 $20 MS65.  Apr 2014 Auction.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.