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The Coin Student's Blog

13 Sep 2016

1849 Double Eagle

| The Coin Student

It is interesting to note that the Double Eagle Series began with an extreme rarity, the 1849 Double Eagle and ended with another, the 1933 Double Eagle. Though it could be assumed that the history of the coin began a few years before the coin was minted, but it actually started decades before the coin was even made. Gold coins in the United States began before the Double Eagle was first introduced. On April 2, 1792 a Bill was passed by the United States Congress specifying the weight, denomination and purity of the future gold coins. Due to the need for gold to produce the coins, in 1795 Moses Brown, a Boston businessman gave the Mint some gold ingots in exchange for silver coins. Later in 1795, the first gold coins were minted. Over the next five decades three denominations of gold coins were made, two and half dollars, five dollars and ten dollars. In 1848, the history of gold coins would forever be changed when the California Gold Rush began. Since there was an abundance of gold, the gold dollar and twenty dollar Double Eagles were minted. Though the gold dollar was eventually discontinued, the Double Eagle was popular enough to be minted until the recall of gold, by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933. With this in mind the story of the 1849 Double Eagle starts. The 1849 Double Eagle was a pattern to determine the design, relief, and overall look of the coin before producing the coins in 1850. James Barton Longacre, the United States Mint Chief Engraver at the time took on the task of designing the Double Eagle. In December of 1849 the patterns were created. During the minting process it was noted that the relief of the design was too high and could not be effectively be produced with the minting technology of that time. Soon the Mint came to the conclusion that all the pattern Double Eagles would be melted down except for two. One was sent to the Mint storage and the other was given to Secretary of the Treasury. Later on the Mint sent the coin to the Smithsonian Museum were the coin resides today on exhibit. As for the Secretary of the Treasury's coin, the location of this Double Eagle is unknown, but every day we are coming closer and closer to solving the mystery of the missing 1849 Double Eagle.

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