Due to the major gold discoveries in California, large $20 double eagle gold coins were minted for large-scale domestic and foreign transactions that could only be paid in gold. Type-I Double Eagle gold coins were minted from 1850 to 1866, minted in an era that defined our Nation, from the California Gold Rush to the sinking of the SS Central America, Panic of 1857, and the Civil War.
Struck at the Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco Mints, the Type-I series form one of the most popular and collectible groups of United States gold coins. First minted as a pattern coin in 1849 and then minted for commerce in three types: Type 1 “no motto” on the reverse (1849-66), Type 2 “with motto” (1866-76) “IN GOD WE TRUST” added to the reverse, and Type 3 (1877-1907) with “TWENTY DOLLARS” replacing “TWENTY D.” on the reverse.
The shield on the reverse of the Type-I has simple straight sides which were changed in the Type-II issue to a more rounded and ornate shield.