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Description

Anomalous 1879-O Double Eagle, AU55
Only Type Three New Orleans Twenty

1879-O $20 AU55 NGC. The 1879-O double eagle issue is an anomaly in more ways than one. It was literally the first double eagle production in New Orleans in 20 years since the 1860-O, before the Civil War began. But while the 1860-O was struck to the meager extent of 6,600 coins, the 1879-O saw a mintage only about one-third that amount, at 2,325 pieces. The low mintage of the 1879-O gives it a certain notoriety, even among collectors who do not specialize in double eagles.
The occasion for the striking was the reopening of the New Orleans Mint in 1879, which had been forced to close when the Civil War hostilities broke out, after seeing its authority transferred first to the State of Louisiana, then to the Confederacy. In 1879 New Orleans struck the small quota of double eagles, along with an even smaller production of eagles (the second-lowest mintage of any New Orleans gold coin, at 1,500 pieces), and a huge number of Morgan dollars (2.89 million coins).
While the New Orleans Mint over the ensuing three decades (until it closed for good in 1909) would strike numerous other interesting mintmarked issues, including several later Liberty Head eagles and the curious 1909-O Indian Head half eagle, the 1879-O would be the last Liberty Head double eagle struck, and accordingly it represents the sole Type Three O-mint issue in the series.
Although the issue is quite rare overall, on the plus side, the issue is usually found well-struck -- as on this Choice AU example -- when it is found at all. Minor high-point friction in the centers of each side is in accord with the grade, and the surfaces display bright yellow-gold color with ample mint luster surrounding the devices. Numerous small abrasions pepper each side, none worth individual mention. Census: 13 in 55, 19 finer (8/12).
From The Gnome at the Shore Collection.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 254H, PCGS# 8990)

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Auction Dates
October, 2012
18th-21st
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
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