1861-O $20 Liberty Head Double Eagle NGC MS60
An extremely popular issue among Southern gold specialists, the 1861-O is the final Double Eagle produced at the New Orleans Mint prior to 1879. The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 explains why three different governing authorities struck Double Eagles in New Orleans that year. In January, Union authorities delivered 5,000 examples. These were followed by an additional 9,750 pieces struck by the State of Louisiana from late January through May and a further 2,991 coins that the Confederate States of America produced after June 1. The combined mintage of the 1861-O Double Eagle, therefore, is 17,741 pieces. Numismatic legend has it that the surviving examples with soft definition on the bottom of the date are those coins that were produced by the Confederacy. This has been disproved because all survivors of this issue display some degree of weakness in this area. It seems that the date logotype was lightly impressed into the die. Extensive die polishing resulted in the prooflike finish that most '61-O Twenties display, but it also further weakened the bottom of the date. In a vain effort to correct this defect, an employee at the New Orleans Mint tried to re-engrave the lower edge of the 8. The raised die lines from this work are still evident on the present example.
While there is no way to determine which governing authority struck which 1861-O Double Eagles, the popularity and desirability of this issue remains constant among advanced collectors. Doug Winter's most recent (January 2002) estimate on the number of extant examples in all grades is 135-165 pieces, of which 30 coins grade AU50-AU58. To date, there are VERY few 1861-O examples known in Mint State. Just last year Heritage offered a PCGS MS60 prooflike example that had heretofor been unknown to the numismatic community. In a spectacular fashion, this coin was bid upon for what seemed an eternity until it finally hammered down at $260,000 - a $321,000 invoice amount with buyer's fee. Prior to this auction occurrence, the only Mint State example to have sold at auction was this NGC MS60 (the present coin) and it commanded a record price at the time - $146,875 - in the 2014 FUN Heritage Signature sale.
Ten years ago, this coin is listed as the # 3 example on the Condition Census in Doug Winter's 1992 book New Orleans Mint Gold Coins: 1838-1909. Doug's latest release still has this coin as #3, and he adds that he believers the NGC Census figures are inflated, meaning he couldn't account for the number of coins graded versus the number of known specimens.
With the exception of the bottom of the digits in the date, every feature is sharply detailed. There is little evidence of wear, and the number of light to moderate abrasions is consistent with an O-mint Double Eagle at this grade level.
|Year of Issue||1861|
|Denom Type||Liberty Head $20|
|Mint Location||New Orleans|
|Grade Add On||NONE|