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Important 1861-O Double Eagle, Choice AU

1861-O $20 AU55 NGC. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States on November 6, 1860. Since many of the white plantation owners in New Orleans had grown wealthy off of slaves laboring in the fields of cotton and sugar cane, the powerful elite in the state of Louisiana had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of slavery. South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, and by the time Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded. Those were followed by four other states that seceded after April 12, 1861--when the bombardment of Fort Sumter marked the official start of the Civil War--and June 12.
The 1861-O double eagle is an issue of 17,741 coins that were struck in New Orleans under three different authorities. The first batch of 5,000 coins was produced under the United States flag; the second batch of 9,750 pieces was produced under authority of the State of Louisiana between January 26--the date of its secession--and May 31. The third batch of 2,991 pieces was made on or after June 1, when Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America.
It is impossible to determine which coins were struck under which authorities, but Doug Winter's second edition reference on O-mint gold advances a theory that the one-fifth or so of known specimens with a strong date are those struck by the Confederate States of America. He believes that more than one obverse die was used, with both the strong and weak date variants in exactly the same relative position on the die.
This coin has the normally seen weak date. Its eye appeal and overall preservation, however, are exceptional, far finer than the usual example of this issue. Most specimens are heavily abraded. This piece is not. A few minor ticks are consistent with light circulation, and the coloration is a mellow, lovely orange-gold. The strike is bold except for the date, and considerable luster remains on both sides. Census: 14 in 55, 16 finer (8/09).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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Auction Dates
September, 2009
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