1873-S $20 Liberty Closed 3 NGC AU58
This Type has no changes to the obverse, but a few modifications were made to the reverse. The oval of stars above the eagle’s head was expanded, and the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed within that oval. The rays above the oval have also been modified. The shield now has sides that are slightly curved, not straight as on the previous Type, and the eagle’s tail feathers are lower and closer to the lettering of the denomination. Minor changes were also made to the ends of the scrolls, the number of leaves on the scrolls, and the location of the wing tips.
The addition of the motto to our coinage came at the urging of Reverend Mark R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania. The uncertainties and horrors of the Civil War engendered strong religious feelings among the citizenry, and Rev. Watkinson felt this should be acknowledged. Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase agreed, and using his discretion as to the inscriptions on our coins, Chase first had the motto added to the 2-cent piece in 1864. Originally the motto was intended to be expressed as “In God Our Trust”, but Chase’s collegiate alma mater may have influenced the final version. Secretary Chase was a graduate of Brown University, whose motto IN DEO SPERAMUS translates to “IN GOD WE HOPE”. It is believed that Chase had this in mind when he made the final decision as to the exact wording of the motto. The Coin Act of March 3, 1865 gave the Treasury discretionary power to place the motto “on all coins able to accommodate it”, meaning coins large enough to have room for it. The Mint took this to mean all silver coins larger than a dime, half eagles, eagles and double eagles. It was not until 1908 that Congress mandated that the motto be placed on gold and silver coins. In 1955 Congress passed legislation that required the motto to be placed on all coins.
Demand for Type 2 Double Eagles comes primarily from the legions of Type collectors. Although some will add just one example to their holdings, many obtain one from each of the three Mints that produced the coin: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Carson City. Very few attempt a complete date and mintmark set due to the expense involved. The rarest issue for the Type is 1870-CC with a mintage of just 3,789 pieces. All 1870-CC Double Eagles are very rare and very expensive. As an indication of rarity, between the two major grading services, PCGS and NGC, only 132 coins have ever been certified, and not one coin has been deemed uncirculated. Neither service has certified any example higher than AU-55.