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Press Release - April 10, 2006
Important Pair of Type One San Francisco Double Eagle Rarities to be Auctioned!
Dallas, Texas: Originally issued between 1850 and 1932, Double Eagle gold pieces are some of the most collectible coins in the numismatic hobby, appealing to collectors for both their incredible beauty and their intrinsic value.
"Double eagles are an important part of our numismatic offerings," said Greg Rohan, President of Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, "but I'm particularly excited about two coins in our upcoming Central States auction."
"The first, an 1861-S $20 Paquet, graded AU58 by NGC, displays the tall letters combining thick and thin elements with delicate serifs of which designer Anthony Paquet was so fond," Rohan said. "These features appear on the reverse of this special double eagle variety, as well as a number of pattern coins by the same artist. These special reverse dies were made late in 1860, and sent to San Francisco in November of that year. Shortly after the new year of 1861 began, it was determined in Philadelphia that this design modification was not appropriate for these coins, and production was ceased. However, word was not quick to reach San Francisco, as telegraph lines were not yet completed. Word was sent overland to San Francisco that the new dies should not be used, but that facility had already coined 19,250 of these pieces. They were released to circulation, and a small number survive today."
"With a single exception," Rohan said, "every example of this issue shows signs of circulation, and nearly all are heavily abraded. This particular example, while exhibiting the slightest trace of wear, has exceptional surfaces with only a few minor abrasions on each side. Both sides have nearly full luster with exceptional light yellow surfaces and traces of pink color. It is quite sharply struck with no apparent signs of design weakness. Without a doubt, this is one of the finest available examples of the variety."
"Another stunning example of the type is an 1866-S $20 No Motto, graded AU58 by PCGS," Rohan continued. "This issue is the only Type One double eagle coined in 1866, and it is an important rarity in the series. Although the mintage totaled 120,000 coins, a very small percentage survived, and today only about 200 examples still exist. Nearly all of the survivors are moderately to heavily circulated, with any AU grade coin being elusive."
"The obverse dies with the new date were sent to San Francisco in November 1865," said Rohan, "for use after the first of the new year. It was not until March 1866 that new reverse dies were sent, containing the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Until those arrived, personnel on the west coast had to use leftover reverse dies from the 1865 coinage."
Rohan said, "A review of our archives indicates that this example is only the sixth AU-grade specimen we have sold since 1993. Authors Doug Winter and Adam Crum summed up this issue in their book on the Type One double eagles when they said, 'The 1866-S No Motto is the second scarcest San Francisco double eagle. It is usually seen in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine grade range and accurately graded Extremely Fine-45 pieces are rare. In About Uncirculated, this date is very rare and it becomes extremely rare in About Uncirculated-55. There are currently no 1866-S No Motto double eagles known in any Uncirculated grade.'"
"The surfaces of this example have a few scuffs and abrasions," Rohan said, "including a couple deeper marks on the obverse. However, this is still a finer coin than nearly any other that survives. Both sides are essentially fully lustrous with only a trace of wear. It has rich honey-gold color with traces of pinkish toning. The central obverse and reverse design elements are boldly defined, with some peripheral weakness. This is a beautiful coin, and one that will no doubt inspire some spirited bidding at auction."
Heritage Auction Galleries will offer these rare Double Eagles in their upcoming Signature Auction, to be held April 26-29, 2006 as the official auctioneer of the Central States Numismatic Society's 2006 Convention, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio.
Images, descriptions, and prices realized from all of Heritage's previous auctions are available in the Permanent Auction Archives at the Heritage website.
To reserve your copy of a catalog for any upcoming Heritage auction, please contact Nicole Jewell, c/o Heritage Auction Galleries, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219, or call 1-800-872-6467, ext. 272.