Early Strike 1861-O Double Eagle, AU551861-O $20 AU55 PCGS. The final double eagle coined in New Orleans at the dawn of the Civil War, the 1861-O ranks among the elusive Liberty twenties, with a mintage of just 17,741 coins struck during the early months of the year. Coinage was conducted by three different governments. Although actual records are unavailable, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth estimate 5,000 coins were struck under authority of the United States, 9,750 coins under authority of the State of Louisiana, and 2,991 coins under Confederate authority.
Noted gold authority Douglas Winter examined several hundred auction catalog descriptions and plates of 1861-O double eagles to form his opinion that the early strikes under U.S. authority have a weak date and a perfect, uncracked obverse die, and later strikes under Louisiana or Confederate authority have a strong date and cracked obverse die. The present piece has considerable weakness at the date, and a perfect die with no trace of the crack that eventually appears above star 2.
It is an attractive piece with brilliant yellow surfaces that exhibit considerable luster and sharp design features. The surfaces are relatively clean, with only a few minor marks on either side. A diagonal mark on Liberty's neck may serve as a pedigree characteristic. Both sides retain considerable reflectivity in the fields, further attesting to its early production date. Population: 13 in 55, 6 finer (3/08).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)
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