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

1859 Double Eagle

1859 Double Eagle

1859 Double Eagle or $20 Gold

PCGS No: 8926, 9071
Circulation strikes Mintage: 43,597
Proofs: 80
Designer: James Barton Longacre
Diameter: ±34 millimeters
Metal content: Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
Weight: ±516 grains (±33.4 grams)
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) below the eagle's tail on the reverse.

 

Introduction:
The 1859 Double Eagle issue has one of the lowest mintages of any Type 1 double eagle from the Philadelphia Mint. Also, the issue was largely ignored by early collectors who preferred Proof examples of Philadelphia coinage. As a result, the 1859 double eagle is very scarce in any grade. Most examples are in no better condition than Very Fine or Extremely Fine. A number of coins have been offered as About Uncirculated at auction in the last decade, but most of these were on the lower end of that scale. A good indication of the coin's rarity is illustrated by the fact that only two examples were found on the S.S. Republic, both of which are AU-58. The Smithsonian lacks this date in circulation-strike format. The finest coin graded at the MS-62 level, and it has been reported that it sold for $55,000 in early 2005.

Key to Collecting: The 1859 double eagle is scarce in all grades. Years ago most pieces in auction offerings were listed as VT or EF. Today, certified AU coins are seen with some frequency. Mint State coins are so rare as to be virtually unobtainable, and none of the "name" collections of generations ago had one. Although only a handful of Proofs are known to exist, as collections are formed and sold the coins re-enter the market. Accordingly, there have been several dozen auction appearances over a long span of years, but the number 01 different specimens is far lower.

Aspects of Striking: Coins from the new obverse hub utilized beginning this year (see introduction to the Type 1 series) show less detail than do those of 1850-1858. This rule carries through to die end of the type.

Die Data: 1859 four-digit date logotype in short numerals, widely and more or less evenly spaced, the 1 and 8 being very slighdy closer. Lower left serif of 1 is longer than right serif; top interior of 8 is smaller than bottom interior; 5 is wide, squat, with thick top flag and thick right side to curve, upright slants almost imperceptibly to the right, the digit overall is unlike any other 5 used up to this point; 9 slightly low and leans slightly right. Used on alfdies for all mints.


Number of Appearances: 50 (11%)
High Grade Condition Points: 8
Average Grade: VF-30

Auction Records:

(8) Proof: Wolfson 1962; Menjou 1950; MC 1948; Lee 1947; Atwater 1946; WGC 1946; Bell 1944; Ten Eyck 1922

(1) Unc: Holmes 1960

(6) AU: Stack's 9/81; ANA 1976; ANA 1974; Paramount 5/74; Stack's 10/70; ANA 1956

(10) EF: Paramount 2/77, 7/76; Stack's 4/30/75; Paramount 11/70; Stack's 6/70; Paramount 5/70; Miles 1968; Stack's 6/67; Kosoff 10/65; Bell 1963

(24) VF: New England 10/81; Stack's 6/79, 2/79, 6/77; RARCOA 5/77; Superior 11/76; Paramount 11,75; Pine Tree 6/75; Superior 10/74; Gilhousen 1973; Stack's 4/71; Kreisberg/Cohen 11/70; ANA 1968; Stack's 5/68, 4/67; Paramount 2/67; Stack's 10/66; Paramount 5/66; Bolt 1966; Paramount 3/66; FUN 1963; Cicero i960; Melish 1956; Farouk 1954

(1) Fine: Shuford 1968

Comments:
Along with the 1855-O, the 1859 double eagle is one of my "pet" dates of the first type of Liberty Head Double Eagle. The mintage is small but still does not begin to convey the true rarity of the date, particularly in high grade. In 443 auctions dating back over 60 years, only one 1859 was ever catalogued as "uncirculated," the Holmes specimen in 1960. I have not seen that particular coin and thus cannot say whether or not it was really uncirculated. I can say, however, that 1 have never personally seen an unc and have seen no more than a few that legitimately graded AU. The finest I know of was in Paramount's 1974 Greater New York (May) Sale. The typically available 1859 is well worn, usually VF with a partially prooflike or fully prooflike surface. Actually, in any grade the 1859 must be considered rare. Among all 204 Double Eagle issues, it is tied for 7th in rarity according to average grade and is just below the top 20 (25th) based on total number of appearances at auction. A few proofs of this date are known, perhaps as many as seven or eight. The Royal London Mint's collection contains two 1859 proofs of each of the U.S. gold denominations from SI to $10. It is probable that at one time the Double Eagles were also in the collection but they are not there now.

1859 HISTORICAL HIGHTLIGHTS

Springfield, Illinois, Jan. 5. Stephen A. Douglas wins second term in Senate, defeat¬ing Abraham Lincoln.
Texas, Feb. 23. Governor Hardin R. Runnels issues proclamation instructing Tex-ans to avoid hostilities against Indians.
Mississippi River, Apr. 9. Samuel Clemens becomes li¬censed riverboat pilot on Mississippi River.
Springfield. Illinois, April. Abraham Lincoln, in letter to editor T.J. Pickeit, confides, "I must, in candor, say I do not consider myself fit for the Presidency."
Vicksburg, Mississippi. May 9-19. Southern Commercial Convention meets to call for reinstilution of legal slave trade.
Utah Territory, July 2. Mail service established to Salt Lake City by stagecoach.
Colorado, September. Voters reject proposed constitution for "Slate of Jefferson."
Massachusetts, Oct. 30. Henry David Thoreau speaks out on behalf of John Brown.
Colorado, Nov. 16. "Claim jumpers" lay waste to St. Charles, renaming it "Denver" after first Governor of Kansas Territory. James Denver.
Washington, D.C., Dec. 5. Charles Sumner of Massachu¬setts resumes Senate duties after recovery from beating by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina.
Salem. Massachusetts. Moses Gcrrish Farmer demonstrates his electric incandescent light¬ing with two lamps powered by wet-cell battery with platinum filaments.
Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington's home dedicated as national monument.
Cambridge. Massachusetts. Massachusetts Institute of Technology founded.
Mississippi. Legislalure resolves to secede from union immediately if a Republican is elected president.
Ohio. John D. Rockefeller helps Negro buy his wife out of slavery.
Chicago. Approximately 2.000 daguerrotypc studios have opened across the nation.

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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1859 Double Eagle - Type 1 Double Eagles - S.S. Republic

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