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1849 Double Eagle Obverse     1849 Double Eagle Reverse

$20 GOLD

PCGS No: None


Circulation strikes: 0
Proofs: 2 known

Designer: James Barton Longacre

Diameter: 34 millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 90%
Other - 10% 

Weight: 516 grains (33.4 grams)

Edge: Reeded

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) below the eagle's tail on the reverse

Images courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 provided the impetus for two new denominations of American gold coins - the Gold Dollar and the Double Eagle.  Both were engraved by James B. Longacre, who is perhaps best known today for his Indian Head Cent design.  No 1849 Double Eagles were struck for circulation and only two Proofs are known.  The coin illustrated above is a part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.  A second Proof was presented to then Treasury Secretary William M. Meredith and was later sold as part of his estate - the present location of this coin remains unknown.  Technically, the 1849 Double Eagle is considered a Pattern coin and is listed as Judd-117.