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Choice AU 1861-O Double Eagle Rarity

1861-O $20 AU55 PCGS. The Mint in New Orleans operated continuously from 1838 through 1861, then again from 1879 through 1909. Prior to the Civil War, double eagles were coined in every year from the beginning of the denomination in 1860 until the Mint was captured by the South in 1861. Those pieces dated 1861 represent an extraordinary time in history. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth comment in their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins: "The 1861-O double eagle is very rare and one of the more historically interesting Type 1 double eagles. The issue was struck by three different governmental authorities. It has been estimated that the federal government struck 5,000 coins, the state of Louisiana 9,750 coins, and the Confederacy 2,991 coins. Unfortunately, it cannot be determined with certainty which mint [sic] struck which coins. There are probably fewer than 200 coins known in all grades, most of which are Very Fine or Extremely Fine. High-grade examples are very rare and desirable. Most display partially prooflike surfaces."
As noted by Garrett and Guth, we cannot be certain about identification of coins struck under each of the three authorities, although Walter Breen speculated: "possibly the rebel strikings are those with greatest weakness at base of date." If Breen's speculation is correct, then this example with the bottom of the 8 and 6 each nearly invisible, could be such a "rebel striking." It is certainly one of the finer examples known with nearly full greenish yellow-gold luster, hints of prooflike surface on each side, and sharp design features. The surfaces have a few light abrasions, yet it is far finer than usually encountered. This is an exceptional example that will certainly please the highest bidder. Population: 13 in 55, 5 finer (1/07).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)

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Auction Dates
February, 2007
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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