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Rare and Historically Important 1861-O Twenty Dollar, AU55

1861-O $20 AU55 NGC. While a scarce date and mintmark in the Type One series, the main interest in the 1861-O has revolved around the three different governments that produced these coins and speculation about which governing authority produced what pieces. Coins were produced by the United States, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederacy. Without going into too much detail, it is generally agreed that the Union struck 5,000 pieces in January, the State of Louisiana produced 9,750 pieces from January 26 to May 31, and the C.S.A. minted 2,991 double eagles sometime after June 1.
In his second edition of Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint, Doug Winter presents a couple of possible scenarios for the striking sequence of these interesting coins:

"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 die 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. Another possibility exists as well: the obverse die was repaired and strengthened by someone at the mint. This does not appear likely, as the New Orleans mint probably did not have the date punches it needed to do this available in 1861, and the weak date coins do not show the aforementioned die crack."

This piece has the weak date and, of course, no trace of the die crack in the lower left field that is seen on the strong date coins. It also shows recutting at the bottom of the 8 in the date. It is most likely that this coin was struck under the authority of either the Federal government or the State of Louisiana. A faint but confirmed glimmer of mint luster can still be seen surrounding the devices. Lightly abraded, the surfaces display even, deep orange-gold color. A rare opportunity to acquire this highly sought-after New Orleans double eagle.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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Auction Dates
May-Jun, 2007
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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