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    1852-O Double Eagle, MS65
    Finest Known Example By Two Points
    Registry Set Essential

    1852-O $20 MS65 NGC. Variety 1. Easily the finest known 1852-O double eagle, the coin offered here is quite likely the finest New Orleans twenty of any date. It was unavailable for study by most modern researchers for almost 40 years when it resided in the collection of Henry Miller from the 1970s until 2011, when Heritage Auctions offered it in lot 5243 of the January FUN Signature, and it has been off the market ever since. Doug Winter was almost alone in being aware of this piece when he wrote the first edition of New Orleans Mint Gold Coins: 1839-1909 in 1992. At that time, Winter considered the specimen in the Dallas Bank Collection the finest known 1852-O, with this coin listed in the number two spot. Like the present coin, the Dallas Bank specimen had only been examined by a few specialists during the 1990s. After the collection was sold in 2001, Winter had the opportunity to view the coin, and he determined that the present specimen is clearly superior to the Dallas Bank example. Jim Halperin, Co-Chairman of Heritage Auctions, had the opportunity to study this coin many years ago, and he always believed it was special. Halperin states that this coin is "by far the best condition New Orleans twenty I have ever seen." Discounting the SP63 PCGS 1856-O double eagle, a coin that many consider a full proof, no other New Orleans Mint twenty has been certified in any grade above MS63 by NGC or PCGS (6/18).

    A generous mintage of 190,000 Liberty double eagles was achieved at the New Orleans Mint in 1852, due to the influx of gold from the California gold fields. The New Orleans facility benefited immensely from the flow of Western gold in the years before the establishment of the San Francisco Mint. Treasury records indicate more than $4.5 million in gold bullion was received from California for coining purposes in 1850, and the flood continued through 1853. At least $2 million worth of the precious metal was received every year until 1854 -- when the San Francisco Mint opened -- then New Orleans gold deposits dropped to a trickle. Production totals followed suit, and the mintage of O-mint double eagles after 1853 was never more than a fraction of the totals accomplished in the earlier years.

    The importance of New Orleans as a center of far-reaching commerce before the Civil War can be demonstrated by the distribution of New Orleans double eagles. While gold coins of the other Southern mints tended to circulate in the regional economy, New Orleans issues have been discovered at all points of the compass. Two 1852-O double eagles were found in the Baltimore Hoard in 1934, along with many other New Orleans gold coins. A total of 20 examples of the 1852-O were recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Republic, and the date has been found in European holdings down to the present day. In 2010, the discovery of another New Orleans double eagle, the Bullock specimen of the 1856-O, captured the imagination of the numismatic community when it surfaced in a safe deposit box in Ohio, suggesting that New Orleans coins were used in the Mississippi-Ohio River traffic. The O-mint coins were clearly important as a medium of exchange in a wide variety of locations.

    Archives research indicates that six obverse and four reverse dies were shipped to the New Orleans Mint for use in 1852, but further study shows that some reverse dies were still on hand, left over from 1851. Despite some positional differences in the placement of mintmarks and dates, Winter is only aware of a single variety for this date. The date is small and positioned centrally between the denticles and the truncation of the bust. The 5 in the date is closed, with the ball nearly touching the bottom point of the upper loop, and the upright is slanted in an italic fashion. Winter notes the reverse die is the same as the die used for the 1851-O emission, with the mintmark high in the field, centered over the N in TWENTY. On the 1852-O reverse, the A in STATES has been patched.

    Because of its substantial mintage, the 1852-O is one of the more available Type One double eagles from the New Orleans Mint. Winter estimates a surviving population of 900-1100 pieces in all grades. Most examples seen are in lower circulated grades, and the issue becomes scarce in AU55 and it is rare in Mint State. Due to the availability of the 1852-O in AU, the date is always in demand from mintmark type collectors, seeking a high grade example for their collections.

    Of course, the present coin is in a class of its own as a condition rarity. No 1852-O double eagle of comparable quality has ever been offered publicly and this coin set the auction prices realized record for the issue of $276,000 in its 2011 FUN Signature appearance. As the finest known specimen of the date, with claims to the title of finest New Orleans business strike double eagle, it might be fair to compare this coin to the finest known specimens of other issues offered at auction recently. Considered as a date, the 1852-O is not in the same rarity category as the 1856-O double eagle, the classic rarity of the series, but the rarity of the 1852-O in MS65 is just as great as the rarity of the 1856-O in SP63. Both issues are represented by just one coin in these respective grades, the finest known specimen of each date. The SP63 PCGS example of the 1856-O sold for $1.4 million when it was offered as lot 1989 of the Long Beach Signature Auction (Heritage, 5/2009). Another landmark O-mint issue, the AU58 NGC 1854-O double eagle, has sold for $675,000 via private treaty. Clearly, the sky is the limit when a coin of such surpassing quality and rarity is offered, and we believe this coin may have been slightly undervalued in its few previous appearances

    The surfaces of this spectacular Gem are vivid peach-gold, with hints of rose in the fields. Vibrant, satiny mint luster radiates from the obverse devices -- but the surfaces also display traces of prooflike reflectivity, especially on the reverse. All design elements are sharply rendered, with full star centers, and fine detail on Liberty's hair. The only pedigree markers are a small, mint-made planchet flaw by IT in UNITED, and a few insignificant marks by the second A in AMERICA. This coin has been off the market for seven years, and it may be decades before collectors have an opportunity to acquire this piece again. As the finest known example, no other coin can provide the collector with an equivalent pride of ownership. This specimen should take its place in the finest collection or Registry Set. Census: 1 in 65, 0 finer (6/18).
    Ex: Henry Miller purchased this coin from Stack's in a private treaty transaction in the 1970s; Miller Estate; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5243, realized $276,000.(Registry values: N1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 268L, PCGS# 8907)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    14th-19th Tuesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,382

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