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Storied 1861-O Double Eagle, Choice AU1861-O $20 AU55 NGC. In terms of history, they say that some coins can talk. And, while that may true with many issues, the 1861-O double eagle guards her secrets well. For years researchers have put forth notions regarding when the 1861-O twenties were struck and by whom, yet such suggestions will likely never rise above the status of theory. Fortunately--owing to a well publicized 1887 Mint report--we do know that the mintage of 1861-O double eagles was accomplished by three different authorities: The Federal government, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederate States of America. The same report opines that much of this issue was probably melted before entering the channels of American commerce; a suggestion that seems likely based on the minuscule extant population.
17,741 pieces were reportedly struck at the New Orleans Mint in early 1861, yet it is clear that fewer than 200 examples have survived, regardless of condition. Unsurprisingly, a few noted specialists feel the extant population is lower. Doug Winter, in his Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint (2006), puts the figure at between 135 and 165 coins, while Dave Bower's (2004) suggests no more than 133 survivors. Pragmatists tend to look at hard numbers, such as certified population data, when trying to determine a coin's true rarity. NGC and PCGS have documented a combined total of 207 pieces as of (10/08), although that number is most certainly inflated due to duplicate submissions. The 1861-O double eagle is a challenging issue--a point few would argue. But what about the Condition Census? While an official census has not been established, experts agree that no more than four Mint State specimens exist and that the majority of survivors reside in the VF to XF range. The finest certified as of (10/08) at either service is a lone MS61 coin, thus making the offering of an AU55 example a notable event.
The present coin is sure to elicit bidding fervor as it crosses the auction block. Rich luster, light green-gold coloration, and minimally abraded surfaces make this an above average offering for the issue and assigned grade. And while virtually all known 1861-O double eagles come with poorly defined details, the current coin displays a respectable strike. Furthermore, we find no individual flaws or distractions that warrant individual mention. Census: 13 in 55, 17 finer (10/08).
From The Baltimore Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)
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