Select Mint State 1860-S Double Eagle
1860-S $20 MS63 PCGS. The present 1860-S double eagle is
certified MS63 by PCGS, making it the single MS63 of the issue at
either service and surpassed by a single MS64 at PCGS. For the many
enthusiasts of the Liberty Head double eagles or conditionally rare
gold, this collection poses many significant bidding
One Coin Certified Finer
Even in far-off San Francisco, one could nearly hear the drumbeats of war that resounded in 1860 -- the year this piece was produced. The election of Abraham Lincoln as the nation's 16th president would prompt 11 Southern states to secede from the Union. Californians narrowly chose Lincoln over the two Democratic Party candidates.
But San Francisco was a city concerned with growth and its increasing prosperity. The population had increased 50-fold since 1849, to 56,000-plus inhabitants by the Federal Census of 1860, and in the next decade the city would see its population nearly triple, to about 150,000 people.
The job of the San Francisco Mint was to enable the free flow of goods and services via ample supplies of federal coinage, a task it fulfilled admirably. The facility would again strike every authorized gold denomination from gold dollar through double eagle, including the three dollar denomination for the last time (save for the unique 1870-S). By far the lion's share of that output would consist of double eagles, produced to the extent of 544,950 pieces -- admittedly down somewhat from earlier years, but still a large output.
Except for the 1854-S and 1857-S issues, the other S-mint Type One twenties show an average certified grade around XF45 or a tad finer, indicating the extensive circulation that these millions of coins saw in the years after their production. The 1854-S coins were saved in larger numbers as first-year issues, and some were recovered aboard the shipwreck of the S.S. Yankee Blade. More famously, the 1857-S double eagles were recovered by the thousands from the S.S. Central America, bringing up the average grade.
The average grade for the 1860-S twenty is a bit over XF45. Garrett and Guth describe the 1860-S as a "workhorse of commerce" and add that "only about two dozen Uncirculated coins are known, including examples found on the wrecks of the S.S. Brother Jonathan and the S.S. Republic." Both ships sank in 1861.
The present MS63 PCGS example boasts superlative eye appeal that might be expected on a much finer coin. Subdued but thorough frosty luster radiates from each side, and the obverse is sharply struck overall, displaying even the tiny "J.B.L." letters on the neck truncation. The reverse is fairly sharp, although minor weakness appears on the wing tips. The obverse shows a small series of reeding marks in the field near the forehead, but otherwise there are few signs of contact. Some planchet discoloration above the head deepens into a small planchet flaw near the rim at 1 o'clock. The reverse shows some smaller planchet defects near the lower rim. The surfaces show antique-gold prevailing, but some deeper reddish color on the reverse may be the product of some improper alloy mix. These are nonetheless minor quibbles on such a rare, well-preserved, and nearly unmarked coin.
From The Galt's Gulch Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 269F, PCGS# 8931)
View all of [The Galt's Gulch Collection ]
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