With the onset of the California Gold Rush, a new coin denomination was authorized - a twenty-dollar gold piece called a double eagle. It depicted the head of Liberty wearing a coronet, surrounded by stars, for the obverse. The reverse bore a heraldic eagle, similar to the Great Seal of the United States.
With gold rushing in from California, the production of double eagles soared to a level that would not be exceeded until 1861. A large number of coins were produced, but the vast majority of 1851 double eagles did not survive. Of the coins seen today, most are heavily worn. Examples were found on the S.S. Central America and the S.S. Republic, nearly all of which were circulated. High-grade 1851 double eagles are very rare, with only two dozen coins known in choice condition. The highest-grade 1851 double eagle certified to date has been MS-64