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Rarely Seen 1861-O Twenty, AU53

1861-O $20 AU53 NGC. The 1861-O is a storied issue and one that is entangled in the opening days of the Civil War. These pieces were struck under three different governing authorities: the United States, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederacy. Over the years, various theories have been proposed how one can tell which entity struck which coins, but in reality there is no definitive answer to this question. The total mintage for the 1861-O is 17,741 pieces. However, the rarity of these pieces would suggest a much lower mintage. This can possibly be explained by a passage from the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint from 1887 regarding the issuance of the 1861-O:

"It is presumed that the larger part, if not the whole, of the gold coin struck, as above described, from United States coinage dies under other than legal auspices, was applied to purchases abroad, and that accordingly it has long since been melted down without ever having appeared in any form in domestic circulation."

Most 1861-O twenties show a lightly punched date. On some the final 1 is barely visible. This piece shows weakness in that area also, but the reverse is atypically strong for the issue. Later die states show obvious and somewhat crude strengthening of the 8. These pieces are often considered CSA coins. Following this logic, the definition on this coin would tend to indicate it is either a federal issue or State of Louisiana coin. The bright orange-gold surfaces are peppered with numerous small to medium-sized abrasions. However, the only marks worthy of individual note are a diagonal scratch from the lower obverse field across into Liberty's neck with a shallow planchet void beneath it, and a barely perceptible scratch higher in the left obverse field. (Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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Auction Dates
Jul-Aug, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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