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LIBERTY HEAD (NO MOTTO ON REVERSE) TWENTY DOLLARS OR DOUBLE EAGLE (1849-1866)

1856-S Double Eagle

1856-S Double Eagle

1856-S Double Eagle or $20 Gold

PCGS No: 8919
Circulation strikes Mintage: 1,189,750
Proofs: 0
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Diameter: ±34 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
Weight: ±516 grains (±33.4 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: "S" (for San Francisco, CA) below the eagle's tail on the reverse.

 

Introduction:
Years ago the 1856-S double eagle was normally found mostly in circulated condition. The discovery of the S.S. Central America profoundly changed the rarity of this issue. There were more than 1,000 examples found on the ship, hundreds of which are in Mint State condition. There are also coins known from other shipwrecks, some of which display granular surfaces. The surface of the coins found on the S.S. Central America are mostly unblemished by their immersion in seawater. There were several gem examples found, and these are among the nicest Type 1 double eagles available. The finest of them, pedigreed to the S.S. Central America and graded MS-66, sold in October 2004 for $70,000. When the double eagles from the S.S. Central America entered the market, they were closely studied for die-variety attribution. At least 18 different varieties of the 1856-S issue were identified.

Key to Collecting: The 1856-S double eagle is readily available in circulated grades from VF to AU. Mint State coins are plentiful in the context of Type 1 double eagles, and several hundred exist, mostly from the treasure recovered from the S.S. Central America. The Fort Capron hoard includ¬ed many sand-and-surf etched coins.

Aspects of Striking: Usually fairly well struck with needle-sharp detail.

Die Data: Standard four-digit logotype punch for this year. Double eagle production continued its stride in 1856, and 17 obverse and 10 reverse dies were shipped to San Francisco for use to strike this denomination. Probably, some obverses remained unused and were destroyed. Following the discover)- of the S.S. Central America Robert Evans studied the die details carefully and compiled a list of varieties to which such coins are sometimes attributed by others. Breen-7184 has 56 (1856) slightly doubled. Medium S (1.3 mm.) mintmark.


Number of Appearances: 171 (39%)
High Grade Condition Points: 91
Average Grade: VF-39

Auction Records:

(28) Unc: Stack's 9/81; ANA 1980; Auction'80; B&R 8/80; Hughes 1/80; New England 1/80; Auction '79; ANA 1978; Ivy 7/77; Paramount 4/77; ANA 1976; AAA 9/75 (2); ANA 1975; Superior 10/74; AAA 5/74; Stack's 3/74; Gilhousen 1973; Stack's 4/71; Alto 1970; DiBello 1970; Miles 1968; Kreisberg, Cohen 6/68; Walton 1963; Baldenhofer 1955; Lee 1947; Atwater 1946; Roach 1944

(35) AU: New England 11 ,/80; Kagin's 9/80; ANA 1980; Kagin's 2/80; Superior 10/79; Stack's 9/79; ANA 1979; Auction 79; Stack's 6/79; Superior 6/79; Kagin's 4, 79; New England 3, 79; Stack's 6,, 78; Ivy I /78; Stack's 4/77, 4/76, 9/ 75; Pine Tree 6/75; Paramount 5/75 (2); Stack's 4/4/75; AAA 11/74; GENA 1974; ANA 1974; Stack's 6 74, 2/74, 6/73; Kreisberg/Cohen 9/71; Stack's 1/70; ANA 1969; ANA 1966; Bell 1963; Holmes 1960; WGC 1946; Bell 1944

(58) EF: Stack's 6/81, 3/81; B&R 1/81; Stack's 3/80, 2/80(2), 12/79; NASCA 10/79; Superior 10/79; Stack's 9/79; Ivy 7/79, 2/79; Stack's 2/79, 10/78; Superior 6/78; Stack's 5/78; B&R 4/78; New England 11/77; Stack's 9/77 (2); New England 7/77; Paramount 7/77; Stack's 6/77; Ivy 4/77; Stack's 2/77; Paramount 2/77, 1 / 77; Coin Galleries 4/76; Paramount 2/76; Coin Galleries 11/75; ANA 1975 (2); Pine Tree 6/75; Stack's 4/30/75; Davies/Niewoehner 1975; Paramount 11 /74, 5/74; Pine Tree 3/74; Paramount 5/73; Stack's 2/73, 12/72, 6/72, 2/72; ANA 1971; RARCOA 5/71; Kreisberg/Cohen 11/70; Stack's 6/70; Paramount 11/69; Stack's 3/69, 3/68, 11/67, 6/67, 4/67; ANA 1962; Menjou 1950; Kern 1950; MC 1948; Roach 1944

(41) VF: Coin Galleries 9/81; Stack's 3/81; Kreisberg 9/80; Auction'80; Stack's 2/80, 12/79; B&R 2/79; Superior 10/78; Kagin's 9/78; Stack's 2/78, 12/77; Kagin's 10/77; B&R 2/77; ANA 1976; Superior 10/74; ANA 1974; Stack's 5/73; Superior 12/72; Kreisberg/Cohen 6/68; Shuford 1968; Stack's 5/68; Kreisberg9/67,4/67; Paramount 11/66; Kreisberg 10/66; Stack's 10/66,6/66; Kosoff 10/65; Stack's 3/65, 2/65; Paramount 2/65; Golden 1963; Wolfson 1962; Golden 1962; Cicero 1960; ANA 1959; Melish 1956; Baldenhofer 1955; Farouk 1954; Flanagan 1944; Dunham 1941

(9) Fine: Kreisberg/Cohen 11/70; Stack's 2/70; Kreisberg/Cohen 6/69; Kreisberg 11/65, 6/65; Ward 1964; Cicero 1960 (2); Melish 1956

Comments:
Although scarce, particularly in mint state, the 1856-S Double Eagle is one of the commonest Type I Double Eagles from the San Francisco Mint. It appeared at auction in the 443 catalogues surveyed more times than any other except the 1865-S, and it was also offered in Unc. more times than any of the rest. These auction data coincide with my own personal experience and I would rate the 1856-S as the most likely Type 1 S-Mint Double Eagle to be available in full mint state. Many of the uncs are the "saltwater" variety with subdued lustre and slightly granular surfaces but I have also seen a small number of very nice original uncs including several that were gem quality. (One should not get the impression from these comments, however, that an Unc. 1856-S is not rare because it most certainly is. It is just not quite as rare as the other early S-Mint issues.) 1 have never seen a prooflike 1856-S; all of them were frosty.

1856 HISTORICAL HIGHTLIGHTS

Oregon Territory, Feb. 22. Indians kill father and sons while holding mother and daughter captive: Geisel Family Massacre enrages settlers
California, Feb. 22. First railroad in slate links Sacramento and Folsom.
Boston, March 26. Operation of first steam trains in New England begins.
United States, Apr. 1. Western Union Telegraph formed to handle Western telegraphic communication.
Texas. Apr. 29. First camels purchased by U.S. Army for experimental duly in Texas arrive (--June 16, IS57).
San Francisco, May 15. Politician James Casey lynched after murdering James King, crusading reformist editor.
Kansas Territory. May 21. Lawrence looted and sacked by pro-slavery forces; one man killed (-Aug. 30).
Bloomington, Illinois, May 29. In a speech. Abraham Lincoln says. "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the lime, hut you can't fool all of the people all of the time."
Boston, May. Emulating large European music festivals, first American festival consists of a chorus of 600 and an orchestra of 78.
Cincinnati, June 6. Democrats end week-long national convention, nominating James Buchanan for president and John C. Breckinridgc for vice president (~*Nov. 4)
Illinois. Sept. 21. Illinois Central Railroad completed between Chicago and Cairo: longest in country with 700 miles of track.
Chicago. Railroad companies employ telegraph to aid engineers and operators.
Terre Haute. Indiana. T.T. Woodruff patents three-tiered berth railroad car; Andrew Carnegie is principal investor.
Richmond, Virginia. Editorial in Examiner is first to warn that fundamental social and economic differences between North and South may lead to civil conflict.
New York City. Freeman Hunt, author of Wealth ami Wurth, predicts that business will become a form of culture.

See Double Eagle Gold Coins for sale. Click here!

Courtesy Akers: United States Gold Coins - An Analysis of Auction Records
Courtesy Bowers: A Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins




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