Important Near-Mint 1861-O Double Eagle1861-O $20 AU58 PCGS. As a denomination, the double eagle has more than its fair share of lore, and the story of the 1861-O twenties is one of the most fascinating. Of the 17,741 pieces coined at the New Orleans Mint, only 5,000 of the coins were struck under the authority of the United States. After Louisiana's secession from the Union but before its inclusion as part of the Confederacy, the facility minted 9,750 double eagles for Louisiana as an independent state. The remaining 2,991 examples were coined under the auspices of the Confederate States of America before supplies gave out.
Numismatists have long sought out a way of differentiating the Confederate strikings from the rest of the issue, though suggestions remain speculative. The most plausible hypothesis, as described by Q. David Bowers and Southern gold specialist Doug Winter, is that the coins bearing a bold, crudely re-engraved date were the last pieces struck, and therefore Confederate coins. By contrast, the present piece shows distinct weakness at the lower parts of the digits in the date, suggesting an earlier origin.
Nonetheless, this coin is immensely desirable for its eye appeal and surprising condition. Rich yellow-orange surfaces retain ample detail, and while Liberty's hair detail is imperfect, the overall definition far exceeds the norm. The fields and devices show a number of fine abrasions and a touch of friction, but its overall appearance is excellent, and even the coin's most significant flaw, a mark to the right of the eagle on the reverse, is hardly distracting. An attractive and important representative of this era-ending issue, the last Type One double eagle struck at New Orleans. Population: 4 in 58, 2 finer (1/08).(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 269J, PCGS# 8934)
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