1873-S $20 Double Eagle - Open 3 Variety
PCGS MS60In 1873, the San Francisco Mint produced two major varieties of $20 Liberty Head Gold Double Eagles, an ''Open 3'' and ''Closed 3.'' The ''Open 3'' features wider spacing between the top and bottom ends of the number ''3'' in the 1873 date. The ''Closed 3'' variety has narrow spacing between the ''3''. The San Francisco minted a total of 1,040,600 coins in both Closed and Open varieties, however, the Open 3 variety is about three times scarcer than the Closed 3 variety.
In January 1873, Chief Coiner, Archibald Snowden, wrote a complaint to Mint Director James Pollock, with concerns that the ''3'' could be confused with an ''8.'' Pollock ordered to Chief Engraver William Barber to produce new number types with a wider opening on the numeral 3 that could not be mistaken for a number 8 when viewed in general circulation.
This is an essential coin to acquire when building a Type-II collection. 1873 was an historical year as it pertains to our nation's monetary policy. The 1873-S is linked to an interesting story of political controversy that came to be known as the ''Crime of 1873'' because of a political controversy. The 1873-S Open 3 is a conditionally challenging Type II Double Eagle. Most survivors are worn and lower mint state grades are scarce. This coin would serve as a highlight in the finest Liberty Double Eagle set.
1873 began an economic depression when the New York stock market crashed, setting off ''The Panic of 1873.'' It was the first train robbery with Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang, netting $3,000 from passengers. This was the same year that Lt. Colonel George Custer and his 7th Cavalry clash for the first time with the Sioux Indians in Montana. 1873 was also the year for the first San Francisco Cable Car, which was a steam engine powered railway on Clay Street, and it was the first running of the Preakness Stakes horse race, (second in the leg of today's Triple Crown). 1873 was a year of change and started the Women's Crusade Christian Temperance movement against liquor dealers, leading to prohibition.