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1861-O $20 AU50 PCGS....

2008 December Houston, TX Signature Coin Auction #1118

 
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Auction Ended On: Dec 5, 2008
Item Activity: 10 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX 77010
Description:
1861-O Twenty Dollar, AU50
One of the Great 'Story Coins' in U.S. Numismatics
1861-O $20 AU50 PCGS. Aside from appearance and grade, the main question about any 1861-O is who struck it? The general assumption is coins that are strongly defined on the bottom of the digits of the date were struck under federal control of the mint. During the period from January 1 to January 26 the federal government is estimated to have struck 5,000 pieces. After the takeover of the mint by the State of Louisiana on January 26, it is believed that approximately 9,750 double eagles were minted. Then a final 2,991 pieces are estimated to have produced under the Confederacy.
The method for determining who struck which coins is dealt with in Doug Winter's latest book on New Orleans gold:

"Many researchers have assumed that the weak date coins are connected to the Confederacy. The weak date coins show no evidence of the obverse die crack as seen on the strong date coins and this suggests that a second obverse was, in fact, used. The obverse crack is too deep to have been completely removed by die lapping. It is not clear whether the weak or strong date coins were struck first. It is certainly plausible that the weak date coins were made first, the die was repaired, the defective die was removed from service and then the strong date coins were made; first with no defects and then later with the obverse die crack."

This particular coin has equally strong detailing on the tops and bottoms of the digits in the date, and the die crack is evident. It is also an especially attractive example for this normally problem-laden issue. Generally an 1861-O is found with heavy, widespread abrasions. This piece is notably clean. As further reinforcement of when this coin was struck; i.e., early in the year, the devices are still outlined on each side by the mirror-like finish of a new die. After a few thousand strikes this finish diminishes, but on this coin only light handling in the more exposed areas has subdued the original reflectivity. This light handling also gives the coin a two-toned appearance with the majority of the coin a deeper orange-gold and the mirror-like outline around the devices bright yellow-gold. Sharply defined as well, the only notably weak area on either side are the hair curls around Liberty's face.
From The Deadwood Gulch Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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