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One of the Finest Known 1861-S Paquet Reverse Double Eagles, AU581861-S $20 Paquet AU58 NGC. It is clear that this reverse variation was noted as early as 1865, as an 1861 Philadelphia Paquet Reverse double eagle was sold as lot 2818 in W.E. Woodward's Bache Collection where it realized $37, a significant sum in this era for an esoteric gold coin sold only four years after its issuance.
The Paquet Reverse received very little in the way of publicity until the 1930s and it was still unknown to many collectors as recently as the late 1940s/early 1950s. A number of San Francisco examples were later located in Europe and, as more surfaced, the fame of the Paquet reverse grew. Today, it is clearly recognized as the rarest double eagle from the San Francisco mint. We believe this issue may still be undervalued when one considers its rarity and great story.
There do not appear to be any pieces known that grade Uncirculated by today's interpretations. There may be as many as 16-20 known in About Uncirculated. The Paquet reverse is very rare in AU55 and extremely rare in AU58. The nicest piece sold in recent memory was the Dallas Bank Collection: 31 coin that was graded "Choice About Uncirculated" by Sotheby's/Stack's. It realized $40,250.
This is the finest Paquet we can remember having handled. Most of the original mint luster still remains, although it is a bit thin in places. The obverse shows a few milling marks. Curiously, the obverse is more noticeably abraded than the reverse despite the fact that the obverse has the regular rim, as seen on all other double eagles. The rim normally offers some measure of protection to the interior devices from abrasions and circulation. The Paquet reverse has a greatly reduced rim and it was quickly discovered that this design flaw increased abrasions and friction from handling. What is particularly noteworthy about this piece (in addition to its high grade), is how clean and problem-free the reverse is. Well struck also, with the only notable softness seen around the peripheral stars on the obverse. Light pinkish-rose patina covers the softly frosted surfaces. A positively outstanding Paquet twenty.(#8936) (Registry values: P8, N19000) (NGC ID# 269L, PCGS# 8936)
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