The Arlington Collection Image Gallery

Complete Set of Gold $20 Type 1 Double Eagles

About the Coin

With the 1854-O and 1856-O $20 double eagles being regarded as the great rarities of the Type 1 double eagle series, the 1859-O belongs to the second tier of famous rarities which also includes the 1855-O and 1860-O. Fewer than 100 coins for each date in the second tier are believed to exist.

Most reference books say that the main diagnostics that can be used to authenticate an 1859-O $20 double eagle is the clash marks that appear on the obverse of the coin. One set of clash marks appear as horizontal stripes above the ear of Liberty. Another set of clash marks appear as somewhat vertical stripes on the neck between the two lowest curls.

Click to enlarge image

Although the presence of these clash marks can help to identify an authentic 1859-O double eagle, care should be taken to not dismiss examples based on the absence of the clash marks. The Arlington Collection also has a beautiful example without the clash marks.

Another diagnostic that appears frequently on the examples with clashed obverse dies, is a die crack on the reverse that extends from the tip of the left wing of the eagle, through the E in UNITED, and out to the denticles near the rim.

This example of the 1859-O in The Arlington Collection has both sets of diagnostics. It has the clash marks on the obverse and the die crack on the reverse.

However, the two 1859-O examples, both with and without the clash marks, are two of the nicest AU-58 Type 1 double eagles I have ever seen. The coins could both easily grade MS-61 or MS-62 as they are as nice as similar coins in those grades. Any hint of circulation or wear on the two coins has so far eluded me.

Designer: James B. Longacre
Weight: 33.436 grams
Diameter: approx. 34mm, reeded edge
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper/silver

1859-O Gold $20 Double Eagle

Type 1 No Motto — with Clash Marks
Condition Census

Total Mintage: 9,100
Overall Rarity Ranking: 4 of 44 coins
Overall Population: approx. 75 to 90 coins

1859-O Gold $20 Double Eagle Clashed Obverse
1859-O Gold $20 Double Eagle Clashed Reverse

The Arlington Collection of Double Eagles