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Rare 1858-O Liberty Head Twenty, MS62
Condition Census Specimen
Prooflike Surfaces

1858-O $20 MS62 NGC. One of the finest specimens of this rare New Orleans issue, this coin should challenge the MS62 NGC example from the S.S. Republic for third place on Doug Winter's list of Significant Pieces Known. The only coins with claims to a higher position are the MS62 PCGS coin from the Harry Bass Collection and another example from the S.S. Republic, the MS63 NGC specimen that sold for $135,000 in a private sale in 2004. Of the other three coins mentioned above, only the Bass example has previously been offered at auction, underscoring the importance of this offering.
The New Orleans Mint struck only 35,250 double eagles in 1858, and the issue circulated widely, leaving few high-grade examples available for collectors today. Doug Winter estimates a surviving population of 150-175 examples in all grades, with six or seven specimens extant in Mint State. The neglect of the mintmarked double eagles of the 19th century is a familiar tale by now. Few collectors were interested in collecting mintmarked issues in general, and double eagles in particular, before the 1930s. Demand for the 1858-O, and other New Orleans double eagles, increased after the Gold Recall of 1933 because collectors like Louis Eliasberg and Charles W. Green realized collecting large-denomination gold coins was a legal way to invest in gold during the period.
An early appearance of the 1858-O was in the Sloan, Lenz and Other Collections (Thomas Elder, 1/1936), lot 3061, "1858. $20. O. Mint. Fine and rare." Other appearances followed, with most offerings consisting of low-grade circulated examples, down to the present day.
The present coin is an exciting MS62 specimen, with greenish-gold, prooflike surfaces. Winter lists only a single die variety for the date, but this specimen displays a prominent die break on the reverse, between U and N in UNITED, so another reverse die may turn up someday. The strike is especially sharp for an O-mint issue, with just the slightest softness showing on stars 1 and 2. Only minor abrasions are evident on this piece, an important distinction since most examples are heavily bagmarked. The opportunity to acquire a comparable specimen of this rare double eagle may not recur for years. We expect this coin to find a home in one of the finest collections of Type One double eagles. Census: 1 in 62, 1 finer (11/10).(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 2698, PCGS# 8924)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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