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Census Level 1859-O Double Eagle, AU58

1859-O $20 AU58 PCGS. Every New Orleans double eagle coined after 1853 is an important rarity. While the 1854-O and 1856-O issues are recognized as premier U.S. coin rarities, other dates like this 1859-O are less well-known. Doug Winter calls this issue the fourth rarest New Orleans twenty, following the 1855-O that ranks third. He writes: "The 1859-O double eagle is a very scarce issue in all grades. It is most often seen in Very Fine to Extremely Fine grades and it is rare in About Uncirculated. Most pieces in this grade range are no better than AU53, and the 1859-O becomes very rare in properly graded AU55. There are currently four Uncirculated pieces known." Following the four Mint State pieces, this example appears to be next in the Census list, ranked fifth finest of about 75 to 85 pieces that survive from a mintage of 9,100 coins.
Doug Winter describes a single die pair in his reference, and notes "a group of obverse clash marks above and below the ear of Liberty and at the nape of the neck within the recesses of the lowest two curls." While we see the detail he describes, it appears to be die polish rather than clash marks. Winter also notes that the mintmark is about midway between the tailfeathers and the N. On the present specimen, the mintmark is actually high and nearly touches the tailfeathers, well above the N, matching the illustration in his book.
The surfaces are lightly abraded with exceptional, nearly complete medium yellow luster and hints of reflectivity near the devices. The design motifs are well struck up, although the usual slight weakness appears in the hair details and the usual locations on the reverse, including the wing tips and tail feathers. Population: 4 in 58, 1 finer (9/08).
From The Baltimore Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269B, PCGS# 8927)

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Auction Dates
October, 2008
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