1881 Liberty Head double eagles are very scarce, as less than 730,000 pieces were made, with the vast majority of those coming from the San Francisco mint. Just two mints struck double eagles in 1880: the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints, which is quite a change from the situation just two years earlier, when in 1879 four mints (Philadelphia, Carson City, New Orleans, and San Francisco) were involved in striking $20 Liberty Head gold coins. While double eagles were primarily used in the West, they did see moderate degrees of circulation in the cities along the eastern seaboard. Remember, however, that $20 was a lot of money in the 1880s, and therefore double eagles were mainly used during large transactions, quite often those that were banking related.
Here is a breakdown of the mintages and values of 1881 double eagle gold coins:
1881, 2,199; $21,000
1881-S, 727,000; $1,550
1881 proof, 61; $250,000
*Values are for coins in a grade of Extremely Fine 40 unless otherwise specified.
1881 $20 double eagle gold coins weigh 33.44 grams, contain 0.9613 ounces of gold, and measure 34 millimeters wide. The Liberty Head $20 gold coin’s heavy weight and large size help ensure their popularity among both numismatists and bullion investors alike.
Chief Engraver of the United States Mint James B. Longacre originally designed the Liberty Head double eagle in 1849. In addition to 1881 Liberty Head gold double eagle coins, he also designed several other popular coins, including the Indian Head penny and 2 Cent coin.