Nearly 2.2 million 1896 Liberty Head double eagles were made, which is a significant sum in the scope of 19th-century $20 gold coins. Designed by James B. Longacre in 1849, the Liberty Head double eagle was struck by the Philadelphia and San Francisco mints, with the bulk of the output coming from the San Francisco mint – not surprising given that facility’s location near the epicenter of the Gold Rush, which really took off nearly five decades earlier. Even late in the 19th century, $20 gold double eagles tended to circulate more in the West than the East.
Here is a breakdown of the mintages and values of 1896 double eagle gold coins:
1896, 792,535; $1,500
1896-S, 1,403,925; $1,500
1896 proof, 128; $200,000
*Values are for coins in a grade of Extremely Fine 40 unless otherwise specified.
While mintage figures may appear strong for the Philadelphia and San Francisco business-strike double eagles of 1896, bear in mind that far fewer pieces survive today than were originally minted. This is the case for all pre-1933 U.S. gold coins. Therefore, it makes sense from the buyer’s perspective to only buy 1896 double eagle gold coins that have been authenticated and certified by reputable third-party coin grading firms. These include the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS), and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).