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1866-S Double Eagle, No Motto

1866-S Double Eagle
1866-S Double Eagle, No Motto
PCGS No: 8945
Circulation strikes: Estimated 12,000
Proofs: None
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) below the eagle's tail on the reverse.
The 1866-S double eagle is the last of the Without Motto type. Both the Without Motto and With Motto double eagles were struck in 1866 at the San Francisco Mint. The Without Motto variety is by far the rarest. It is actually one of the rarest double eagles of this type. Nearly all of the coins seen of the date are very well worn or heavily marked. There are probably no more than 200 examples known in all grades. Extremely Fine pieces are rare, and in About Uncirculated the issue is considered a major rarity. Even by today's more liberal standards, there are no known Mint State examples. Both the Bass and Smithsonian specimens grade just Extremely Fine. A PCGS AU-50 example sold at auction in 2005 for $25,300.
Key to Collecting: Ending the Type 1 series is the 1866-S No Motto, an anachronism as the new style for the year was the Type 2 with IN GOD WE TRUST on the reverse. At least two reverse dies still on hand were used to strike 120,000 pieces, according to Mint records. However, for some reason, many fewer have survived, proportionally, than for the 1861-S Paquet (for which we know that 19,250 were struck). Of the couple hundred or so 1866-S No Motto twenties in existence, all show evidence of circulation, with VF being the norm, although an occasional EF is seen, and now and then an AU comes on the market. Similar to the Paquet from the same mint, these coins are usually seen heavily bagmarked and somewhat "scruffy," including up to the AU level and, also similarly, this variety seems to be a candidate for overtrading (opinion). In 1982 David W. Akers said tJiat above EF, "the 1866-S No Motto is excessively rare, and for all purposes, unobtainable." Perhaps in a strict grading seme that statement is still true today.
Aspects of Striking: Usually with an average strike, some lightness of detail.
Die Data: 1866 four-digit date logotype with 18 spaced most closely, 86 wider, and 66 still wider, but the differences are not dramatic. Lower left serif of 1 is longer than lower right serif. 2nd 6 is slightly low and is slightly larger than the 1st 6 (from die 2nd 6 being punched more deeply into the matrix when die four-digit logotype was made). Logotype used on 1866-S No Motto and at botli mints for the 1866 With Motto coinage. 6 obverse dies for the 1866-S coinage were shipped from Philadelphia in November 1865. Old reverse dies were still on hand, these being of the No Motto type. These were used until replaced by the With Motto (IN GOD WE TRUST) reverse dies which were shipped from Philadelphia in March 1861; see separate listing for 1866-S With Motto.
WA. Philpott and Henry L. Zander Collections (B. Max Mehl, November 1945) Lot 1794: "1866-S Without motto. Extremely Fine, frosty mint surface. Very rare. Seldom offered." Realized $210.
I.E. Chadwick Collection (Numismatic Gallery, May 1952} Lot 828: "1866-S No Motto. Fine. Very rare, much more so than is generally supposed. Many of the well known collections lacked this coin." Realized $180.
ANA Convention Sale (Stack's, August 1976) Lot 3219; "1866-S No Motto. Extremely Fine, flatly struck as usual, the light circulation marks expected on a coin of this grade. Rare, and seldom seen above the Fine to Very Fine grades." Realized $450.
King of Siam Sale (Bowers and Merena Galleries, October 1987) Lot 2043: "1866-S No Motto. EF-45. Very sharply struck, with excellent definition of central details, far finer than the Akers plate coin...." Realized $1,540.

Number of Appearances: 57 (13%)
High Grade Condition Points: 2

Auction Records:

(2) AU: New England 4/80; Stack's 2/72

(16) EF: ANA 1979; New England 3/79; Stack's 2/79; New England 11/77; Stack's 6/77; New England 5/77, 3/77; ANA 1976; GENA 1975 (2); New England 11/75; RARCOA 4/75; AAA 11/74; Stack's 6/74; Kreisberg/Cohen 9/71;
Bell 1963

(36) VF: Stack's 12/81. 6/81; Kreisberg 9/80; Stack's 9/79(2), 6/79; Kagin's 9/78; Paramount 3/78; Stack's 4/77; Paramount 5/76; GENA 1975; Pine Tree 6/75, 2/75; Superior 10/74; ANA 1974; Scanlon 1973: Gilhousen 1973; ANA 1971; Stack's 4/71; Paramount 2/71; Stack's 10/70; DiBello 1970; ANA 1969; Stack's 3/69; Miles 1968; Shuford 1968; Stack's 4/67; ANA 1966; Bolt 1966; Kosoff 10/65; ANA 1964; Walton 1963; Wolfson 1962; Golden 1962; ANA 1956; WGC 1946

(3) Fine: Ivy 2/79; AAA 2/74; FUN 1963

The Double Eagle collector who would like a high grade (AU or better) example of this date is likely to be disappointed. I know of only two AU-50 specimens and I have never even heard a rumor of a mint state piece. Actually this issue is very rare in any condition, second among S-Mint issues only to the 1861-S Paquet, and 28th overall in the entire 204 coin series. In rarity according to average grade, the 1866-S No Motto is tied for first with the 1870-CC and 1871-CC. It is also at the top based on rarity in high grade as determined by High Grade Condition Points. When available, which is not really very often, the 1866-S No Motto is typically VF and heavily bagmarked. A strictly graded EF is very rare and, above that level, the 1866-S No Motto is excessively rare and. for all practical purposes, unavailable.

See this 1866-S Double Eagle 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


US Rare Coin Investments 2003 - 2015 U.S. Rare Coin Investments

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