1869-S LIBERTY HEAD - TYPE 2 $20
1869 saw the Black Friday Gold scandal where businessmen Jay Gould and Jim Fisk tried to corner the gold market. With the help of President Grant’s brother-in-law, Gould and Fisk headed a small cabal of wealthy men that bought up vast sums of gold to artificially drive up the price of gold substantially. President Grant was convinced by his brother-in-law to not sell off the Treasury’s gold reserve, which would have ruined Gould and Fisk’s plans, by saying the high gold prices would help farmers in international trade. When the President caught on to the conspiracy he announced that the Treasury would be selling off $4 million worth of gold the next day, effectively sinking the price of gold and sparking a financial crisis. Could Gould or Fisk have bought up this 1869 gold double eagle in their buying frenzy?
The ease with which blood flowed during the Civil War led to a religious revival in the United States that found its expression in coinage with the addition of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to many denominations. In the case of the Double Eagle, the Mint made this addition quite easily in 1866 by placing the wording within the oval of stars above the eagle's head on the reverse. The Type II design, as it has since become known, remained in production through 1876, after which it was further modified by changing the appearance of the reverse denomination from TWENTY D. to TWENTY DOLLARS. This type is rightly recognized as the most conditionally challenging in the entire Liberty Double Eagle series, and Mint State survivors of all issues are scarce from a market availability standpoint, if not downright rare in an absolute sense.