Impressive 1861-O Double Eagle, AU531861-O $20 AU53 PCGS. CAC. The New Orleans Mint produced half dollars and double eagles in the first few months of 1861 before Louisiana seceded, with additional examples struck under State authority and still more under Confederate authority. Mintage figures for each government are known including 5,000 double eagles for the United States; 9,750 for Louisiana; and 2,991 for the Confederate States. Those mintage figures derive from the Annual Report of the Director of the Mint for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887.
Only one obverse die was used for the entire mintage of 1861-O double eagles, in combination with reverse dies that remained from previous years. Despite substantial study of die states, it is still uncertain which coins were struck under each different government. Some pieces have a weak date, others have a strong date, and some of the strong date coins have a die crack from the rim over star 2, extending inward toward Liberty's chin.
In his 2006 revision of the Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909, Doug Winter provides a plausible theory that the weak date coins were struck first, the strong date coins next, and the strong date coins with the obverse die crack last. His observations indicate that about one-fifth of all 1861-O double eagles offered at auction show the strong date with the obverse die crack, and that those coins correspond to the 2,991 coins struck under Confederate authority.
Two years earlier, in A Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins, Dave Bowers discussed coins with a hand-strengthened or patched 8 in the date, suggesting that the patched 8 feature might be a key to identification of the Confederate issue. Clearly more study and discussion is needed.
The present specimen clearly shows the patched 8 feature in the date. However, we are unprepared to state that this is a Confederate issue. Bowers suggests that it might be. Winter suggests otherwise. This highly lustrous example has bold design features with lovely honey-gold surfaces. Traces of prooflike reflectivity remain in the protected areas. A small scrape near stars 4 and 5 is the only noticeable imperfection on an otherwise wonderful green-gold representative. Population: 9 in 53, 21 finer (9/10).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
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