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Possible 'Confederate' 1861-O Double Eagle, AU53

1861-O $20 AU53 NGC. A stunning representative of the final New Orleans coinage prior to its Civil War closure. In the early months of 1861, the Mint was operated by the Federal Government, the state of Louisiana, and the Confederate Government. Half dollars and double eagles were the only denominations coined. The half dollars have been extensively researched, with varieties now attributed to their emission from each of the three authorities. The double eagles remain unattributed in this regard. Mint records show that three die pairs were shipped from Philadelphia to New Orleans on December 10, 1860. Walter Breen conjectures that only one die pair was actually used; however, Doug Winter believes that a second obverse die may have been used.
Many 1861-O double eagles have an extremely weak date, with a perfect obverse die. Others, like this piece, have a bold and strong date, with a cracked obverse die. The obverse has a die crack from the border just above star 2, into the field nearly to Liberty's chin. A second crack joins the inner points of stars 2, 3, and 4.
Winter writes: "After looking through hundreds of auction catalogs and studying images of 1861-O double eagles offered for sale, I have determined that approximately one-fifth of the coins offered had a strong date and showed the obverse die crack. When one considers that the Confederacy is said to have struck approximately 17% of the original mintage figures of this issue (2,991 of the 17,741 struck) this is almost exactly the percentage of the coins that exhibit the strong date with the crack. It is my belief that these are the coins produced by the Confederacy."
In the past, some authors have suggested that the weak date coins were actually the Confederate pieces but we disagree and now subscribe to Winter's thoughts, although there is obviously no documented proof. This lovely double eagle has brilliant green-gold surfaces with satiny luster and strong design details. The fields are faintly scuffed as usual, but they are not marked. Hints of prooflike luster can still be found in the protected areas.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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Auction Dates
February, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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