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Choice AU 1861-S Paquet Double Eagle Rarity

1861-S $20 Paquet AU55 NGC. Reverse dies featuring the Anthony C. Paquet design were sent to San Francisco in November 1860, and production began shortly after the first of the year. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, it was determined that the Paquet design was faulty, and that the coins would not strike up properly. The problem with the design was that the rim was too narrow, and would not properly balance the rim on the obverse die. Instructions to discontinue use of the Paquet dies were immediately sent to the San Francisco Mint on January 5, 1861, but that Mint did not receive word until February 2, after some 19,250 coins were produced. There was certainly no email in 1861, not even a completed telegraph line. San Francisco Mint Superintendent Charles Hempstead replied to the communication on February 9, noting that he had received the instructions and that the Paquet reverse dies had been removed from service, although he also noted in his reply that $385,000 had already been produced with these coinage dies, thus the source for the mintage figure. Today, it is estimated that about 1% of the original mintage still survives, or about 200 coins.
Although Walter Breen credited the discovery of this variety to Arthur J. Fecht, who found an example in Hull, Texas and reported the discovery to The Numismatist in 1937, it was mentioned in the American Journal of Numismatics as early as 1895, and was apparently known before that time. Hull, Texas is located just a few miles northeast of Houston. Most examples that are known today have surfaced in the last 50 years, with many found in European gold holdings. At least one example, apparently a near-Mint grade coin, was recovered in the treasure of the S.S. Republic.
This is a pleasing light yellow-gold example with wispy rose color on each side, especially on the rims. The surfaces are exceptionally clean, although with a few faint hairlines on the obverse, including one in the lower left field. It is finer than the Bass Collection coin, and similar to the Dallas Bank Collection example. This is a remarkable example for the grade, easily within the top 10 of this issue for overall quality.
From The Wyoming Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 269L, PCGS# 8936)

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Auction Dates
August, 2006
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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