1854-O Type One Double Eagle, AU55
1854-O $20 AU55 NGC. The 1854-O and 1856-O double eagle
rarities have been identified as important issues for many decades.
Both issues had extremely small mintages as a result of the newly
opened San Francisco Mint. From 1850 to 1853, substantial amounts
of California gold arrived at the New Orleans Mint, along with the
usual supply from Central and South America. New Orleans Mint
deposit records indicate that 90% of all gold was from California.
Later deposits beginning in 1854 continued to consist of a high
percentage of California gold, but the total deposits were
Rarer Than Previously Believed
From 1850 to 1853, the New Orleans Mint converted an average of 195,000 ounces of gold into coinage. From 1854 to 1861, the average was just 24,000 ounces. In fact, the year 1851 alone saw the production of 388,772 ounces of gold coins, compared to 192,586 ounces for all eight years from 1854 to 1861.
Nearly 40 years have passed since this example was last offered for public competition. Since that time, other census level pieces have been offered on multiple occasions. Our roster includes four examples graded AU58, four others graded AU55, and eight examples graded AU50. We have located just five other pieces grading VF or XF to round out the 21 distinct examples in our record.
For several decades, numismatists have considered the 1856-O as a rarer issue than the 1854-O, given the much lower mintage. New Orleans records show that 3,250 examples of this 1854-O were minted, compared to 2,250 examples of the 1856-O. Our record of 21 examples of the 1854-O compares to a similar record of 23 distinctly different examples of the 1856-O. The 1854-O appears more frequently at auction, suggesting a more plentiful issue. However, the 1854-O double eagle is equally as rare as the 1856-O, if not slightly rarer. Our roster of 21 examples follows.
This Choice AU piece last appeared at auction in 1975. The surfaces show faint reflectivity with brilliant and beautiful yellow color. Both sides have unmarked rims, with only minor handling marks in the fields. A thin, nearly vertical scratch extends down from star 6 on the obverse, an identifying mark that is clearly visible in the 1975 catalog plate. This is an extraordinary double eagle for the advanced specialist.
Roster of 1854-O Liberty Double Eagles
The assistance of P. Scott Rubin is acknowledged and appreciated.
1. AU58 NGC. Gilhousen Collection (Superior, 2/1973), lot 854; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/2000), lot 780; San Francisco Signature (Heritage Auctions, 7/2005), lot 10397.
2. AU58 NGC. Auction '79 (Stack's, 7/1979), lot 934; ANA Building Fund Sale (Steve Ivy, 12/1981), lot 1560; Superior (2/1992), lot 2938; Superior (1/1993), lot 1484; FUN Signature (Heritage Auctions, 1/2002), lot 4011; FUN Signature (Heritage Auctions, 1/2004), lot 3087.
3. AU58 NGC. Recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Republic; Monaco Rare Coins (privately, 2004); private collection.
4. AU58 NGC. Cicero Collection (New Netherlands, 12/1960), lot 8; H. Jeff Browning; Dallas Bank Collection (Sotheby's/Stack's, 10/2001), lot 10.
5. AU55 PCGS. Robert Marks Collection (American Auction Association, 11/1972), lot 1056; James and Margaret Carter Collection (Stack's, 3/1986), lot 528; Auction '88 (David Akers, 7/1988), lot 974; Cincinnati Collection (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 8829; Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage Auctions, 10/2011), lot 5099; Central States Signature Sale (Heritage, 4/2014), lot 5793..
6. AU55 PCGS. Lester Merkin (10/1966), lot 372; Stack's (3/1990), lot 1362; Long Beach Signature (Heritage Auctions, 2/2001), lot 7079; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/2007), lot 1906; Dallas Signature (Heritage Auctions, 10/2008), lot 3012; FUN Signature (Heritage Auctions, 1/2011), lot 5246.
7. AU55 PCGS. Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 7/2004), lot 2246; Rarities Sale (Bowers, 8/2010), lot 1818.
8. AU55 NGC. Bowers and Ruddy (6/1975), lot 1129. The present specimen.
9. AU50 PCGS. Alex Shuford Collection (Abe Kosoff, 5/1968), lot 2412; John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part I (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 1128; Superior (6/1998), lot 2361.
10. AU50 PCGS. William Van Roden Collection (Stack's, 5/1968), lot 910; Eugene Detmer Collection (Stack's, 2/1983), lot 1078; Auction '89 (RARCOA, 7/1989), lot 450; Denver Signature (Heritage, 8/2006), lot 5592; Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 11/2007), lot 4668.
11. AU50 PCGS. Amon Carter Collection (1/1984), lot 841; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/1997), lot 7821; Mid-Winter ANA Signature (Heritage, 3/1998), lot 6507; Superior (9/1998), lot 2227; California Sale (Goldberg Coins, 10/2000), lot 1142; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 7239.
12. AU50 PCGS. Stack's (6/1979), lot 586; DEA and U.S. Marshals Service Sale (Heritage, 12/1988), lot 1370; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2003), lot 4873.
13. AU50. Louis Eliasberg, Sr.; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 883.
14. AU50. R.L. Miles, Jr. (Stack's, 10/1968), lot 833; Stack's (1/1986), lot 408.
15. AU50. ANA Convention Auction (Paramount, 8/1974), lot 967; ANA Convention Auction (New England Rare Coin Auctions, 7/1979), lot 427; King of Siam Sale (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 2011; Charles Kramer Collection (Superior/Stack's, 11/1988), lot 730; Auction '90 (David Akers, 8/1990), lot 1947; James E. Haldan Collection (Sotheby's, 6/1996), lot 136; Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/2008), lot 9111.
16. AU50. Josiah K. Lilly Collection; Smithsonian Institution.
17. XF45 NGC. Heritage (2/1994), lot 5521; Heritage (1/1999), lot 8414.
18. XF40 PCGS. Peter J. Schemenauer Estate (Bowers and Merena, 7/2005), lot 2721.
19. XF Details Cleaned NGC. Bowers and Merena (9/1988), lot 549; Heritage Auctions (1/2014), lot 5515.
20. VF30 PCGS. "Two sisters with roots in Tennessee" (Stack's, 5/2009), lot 158.
21. XF Details Cleaned Net VF30 ANACS. Bell Collection (RARCOA, 4/1963), lot 843; Stack's (4/1971), lot 884; Stack's (3/1986), lot 529; Stack's (11/1989), lot 1494; Bowers and Merena (1/1999), lot 1467; Heritage Auctions (12/2008), lot 2244.
Baldenhofer Collection (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 1511.
ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/1998), lot 5733.
Heritage Bullet Sale (4/1990), lot 596.
King Farouk (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 180; Abe Kosoff.
Menjou Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 6/1950), lot 1955.
Dr. Charles W. Green (B. Max Mehl, 4/1949), lot 806.
Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 759.
Lee Collection (Stack's, 10/1947), lot 1775.
William Cutler Atwater (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1336.
F.C.C. Boyd (World's Greatest Collection, Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 938.
J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 897.
J.C. Morgenthau (6/1940), lot 68.
J.C. Morgenthau (5/1939), lot 452.
Thomas Elder (1/1934), lot 1204.
Thomas Elder (12/1933), lot 1124.
Additional Auction Appearances
Bowers and Merena (1/2010), lot 829.
Sotheby's (3/1990), lot 374.
RARCOA (4/1976), lot 420.
Kreisberg (6/1969), lot 1127.
Sotheby's (5/1987), lot 345.
Hughes (2/1978), lot 1378.
Abner Kreisberg (1/1970), lot 1935.
Kreisberg and Schulman (3/1965), lot 182.
Stack's (12/1950), lot 110.
Stack's (12/1947), lot 579.
Hollinbeck Coin Co. (11/1947), lot 10.
Thomas Elder (9/1938), lot 1529.
J.C. Morgenthau (356th Sale, 1935), lot 237.
From the Collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 268T, PCGS# 8912)
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