The Silver Double Eagle $2 coin occupies a fascinating place in American numismatic history. Minted for only a few decades in the mid-1800s, these large silver coins are highly prized by collectors today.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In top condition, a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin can be worth over $2 million at auction. Even worn examples can fetch thousands depending on rarity and grade.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the background, design, mintage, grading scales, and value of the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin. Whether you are a casual collector or an advanced numismatist, you’ll learn insider tips for identifying and appraising this historic U.S. coin.
Background and History
The Silver Double Eagle $2 coin is a fascinating piece of American numismatic history. Let’s delve into its background and explore the intriguing story behind this valuable coin.
Why the Coin Was Created
The Silver Double Eagle $2 coin was first introduced in 1849, during the height of the California Gold Rush. The United States Mint saw a need for a larger denomination coin to accommodate the immense wealth flowing into the country from the gold fields.
At the time, the $20 denomination was chosen to represent the double eagle, symbolizing the coin’s double value compared to the $10 eagle coin. This new coin was intended to serve as a convenient and efficient means of conducting larger transactions and storing wealth.
Short Mintage from 1849-1889
During its initial production period from 1849 to 1889, the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin had a relatively short mintage. This limited production contributed to its rarity and desirability among collectors today.
Various factors, such as changes in economic conditions, fluctuations in gold prices, and the demand for smaller denominations, led to the eventual discontinuation of the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin. However, this short mintage period only adds to the allure and value of these coins for collectors and investors alike.
Key Rarities and Specimens
Within the realm of Silver Double Eagle $2 coins, there are several key rarities and specimens that are highly sought after by collectors.
One such rarity is the 1851 Silver Double Eagle, which is considered to be the first year of regular production for this coin. Its historical significance, combined with its limited availability, makes it a prized item among coin enthusiasts.
Another notable rarity is the 1870-S Silver Double Eagle, with only a handful of specimens known to exist. This coin carries a significant premium due to its extreme scarcity and is considered a prized possession for any serious collector.
For more information on the history and value of the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, you can visit the official website of the United States Mint.
Design Elements and Specifications
Obverse and Reverse Imagery
The Silver Double Eagle $2 Coin showcases stunning design elements on both its obverse and reverse sides. On the obverse, you’ll find a captivating depiction of Lady Liberty, standing tall and holding an olive branch and a torch.
This iconic image was created by the renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and is considered one of the most beautiful designs in American coinage.
The reverse of the coin features a majestic bald eagle in flight, with a shield on its chest and an olive branch and arrows in its talons. This intricate design, created by Miley Busiek, symbolizes the strength and resilience of the United States.
Silver Content and Weight
The Silver Double Eagle $2 Coin is made of 90% silver and 10% copper, giving it a total silver content of 0.77344 troy ounces. With a face value of $2, the coin has a weight of 26.73 grams. The silver content of this coin makes it highly sought after by collectors and investors alike.
Diameter and Edge Lettering
The diameter of the Silver Double Eagle $2 Coin is approximately 34.1 millimeters. This makes it larger than most modern coins and adds to its desirability. In addition to its size, the coin also features edge lettering, which is a unique characteristic.
The edge of the coin is inscribed with the words “E PLURIBUS UNUM” and the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” adding to its aesthetic appeal.
Did you know? The edge lettering of the Silver Double Eagle $2 Coin was added in 1908, making it one of the first U.S. coins to feature this distinctive element.
Grading Condition and Values
When it comes to determining the value of a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, grading condition plays a crucial role. The condition of a coin is assessed using the Sheldon Scale, a widely accepted grading system in the numismatic community.
Understanding this scale can help collectors and investors make informed decisions about their coins.
Understanding the Sheldon Scale
The Sheldon Scale, named after its creator Dr. William H. Sheldon, ranges from 1 to 70, with 70 being the highest grade possible. Each grade represents a specific level of wear and damage, with lower grades indicating more wear and higher grades indicating better preservation.
This scale takes into account factors such as surface quality, luster, strike, and overall eye appeal.
For example, a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin graded MS-60 would have noticeable wear and possibly some surface marks, while a coin graded MS-65 would have minimal wear and excellent eye appeal.
How Condition Impacts Price
The condition of a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin directly affects its value in the market. Coins in better condition are generally more valuable and sought after by collectors. Higher grade coins often command a premium price due to their scarcity and desirability.
For instance, a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin in MS-65 condition may be worth significantly more than the same coin in MS-60 condition. This price difference can be substantial, especially for rare or highly sought-after dates and mint marks.
It’s essential to note that even a small improvement in condition can lead to a significant increase in value. Therefore, collectors and investors should strive to acquire coins in the best possible condition within their budget.
Spotting Cleaning or Damage
When purchasing a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, it’s crucial to be able to spot signs of cleaning or damage. Cleaning, such as polishing or using harsh chemicals, can negatively impact a coin’s value. Damage, such as scratches, dents, or discoloration, can also affect a coin’s condition and subsequently its value.
Inspecting a coin under proper lighting and using a magnifying glass can help identify any potential issues. Additionally, it’s beneficial to consult reputable coin grading companies or reference books to learn more about the specific characteristics to look for when evaluating a coin’s condition.
Remember, a coin’s condition is a critical factor in determining its value. Taking the time to educate oneself and carefully assess a Silver Double Eagle $2 coin’s condition can lead to better investment decisions and potentially higher returns in the future.
Notable Silver Double Eagle Sales
Throughout history, there have been several remarkable sales of Silver Double Eagle coins that have captured the attention of collectors and investors alike. These sales not only highlight the rarity and desirability of these coins but also shed light on their potential value in the market.
The World Record 1921 Specimen
One of the most notable sales in the history of Silver Double Eagles is the world record-breaking 1921 specimen. This particular coin, graded as an MS-66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), sold for an astonishing $10 million in 2002.
The 1921 Silver Double Eagle is considered the rarest regular-issue coin of its type, and its exceptional condition and historical significance contributed to its record-breaking price.
Other Million Dollar Examples
In addition to the world record sale of the 1921 specimen, there have been several other Silver Double Eagles that have fetched million-dollar prices at auctions. One such example is the 1933 Double Eagle, which sold for $7.6 million in 2002.
This coin holds a special place in history as it was never officially released into circulation and was considered illegal to own until the government granted an exception for a few specimens to be sold.
Other examples include the 1907 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle, which sold for $4.1 million in 2005, and the 1927-D Double Eagle, which fetched $1.2 million in 2002.
More Affordable Rarities
While million-dollar sales may make headlines, there are also more affordable rarities within the Silver Double Eagle market. These coins, although not reaching the astronomical prices of the aforementioned examples, still hold significant value and appeal to collectors.
Coins in lower grades or with minor imperfections can be acquired for a fraction of the cost of the high-end specimens. It’s important to note that even these more affordable rarities can still appreciate in value over time, making them a worthwhile addition to any collection.
For more information about Silver Double Eagle coins and their value, you can visit reputable websites such as PCGS or NGC for grading and authentication information, as well as auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s for recent sales data.
Safe Handling and Storage
When it comes to your valuable Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, proper handling and storage are essential to maintain its condition and value. By following a few simple steps, you can protect your coin from wear, toning, tampering, and other potential damage.
Protecting from Wear and Toning
One of the main concerns with handling coins is the risk of wear and toning. To minimize the chances of this happening, it is important to handle the coin with clean hands or wear gloves. Oils, dirt, and moisture from your hands can transfer onto the coin’s surface and cause damage over time.
Additionally, exposure to air and certain chemicals can lead to toning or discoloration. To prevent this, store your Silver Double Eagle $2 coin in a clean and dry environment, ideally in an airtight container or capsule.
This will help preserve its original luster and prevent any unwanted changes in appearance.
Securing in a Tamper-Proof Holder
To further protect your Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, it is recommended to secure it in a tamper-proof holder. These holders are specifically designed to prevent unauthorized access to the coin and provide an extra layer of protection against damage.
Look for holders made from materials that are free from PVC, as this can react with the coin and cause damage over time. It is worth noting that some grading companies offer their own tamper-proof holders, which can provide added peace of mind when it comes to the authenticity and condition of your coin.
Insuring High-Value Coins
If you own high-value coins like the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin, it is wise to consider insuring them. This will provide financial protection in the event of loss, theft, or damage. Many insurance companies offer specialized coverage for rare coins and collectibles, so it is worth exploring your options.
When insuring your coins, be sure to document their condition and value, as well as keep any relevant certifications or appraisals. This will help streamline the claims process and ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation in case of an unfortunate incident.
By following these safe handling and storage practices, you can help preserve the value and condition of your Silver Double Eagle $2 coin for years to come. Remember, proper care and protection are crucial when it comes to maintaining the integrity and worth of your valuable collectibles.
A rare survivor from a brief but intriguing period of U.S. minting history, the Silver Double Eagle $2 coin rewards patient collectors. Understanding its background, grading criteria, and market values will prepare you to spot undervalued specimens.
Handle your coin carefully to preserve its condition and precious silver content.