1851 $10 (1851 Eagle) Republic NGC MS60. This salvaged 1851 Eagle shows an above average strike with sharp lines in Liberty’s hair and most of the stars’ centers. On the reverse the eagle’s neck, the lower shield, and the lower part of the eagle are well struck. As expected for a mint state coin, there is no wear on the piece. Muted mint luster is seen in the protected areas of both sides.
During the California Gold Rush, the S.S. Republic, then called the Tennessee, was used to transport miners to the shores of Panama and Nicaragua to travel to the California gold fields. For several years the ship was used to transport immigrants to the United States from Mexico. When the Civil War began, the ship was docked in New Orleans. She was seized by the Confederates and used as a blockade runner. After the capture of New Orleans by the North, she became the flagship of Admiral Farragut for the end of the Mississippi Campaign. In 1864, she resumed transporting passengers and cargo from New York to New Orleans. The next year she sank in a hurricane off the coast of Savannah. In 2003 the Odyssey Republic Expedition, after twelve years of searching, discovered and began the recovery of the ship’s treasure. The cargo of riches had lain for 138 years approximately 100 miles off the coast of Georgia. “Lost Gold of the Republic,” a film produced by National Geographic documents the discovery and recovery. The coins recovered from the S.S. Republic are labeled as such by NGC and its affiliate NCS not only to note the historic significance of the coin, but also to indicate that these coins have been professionally conserved. The blue NGC tag was used exclusively for coins from the Republic.
Christian Gobrecht, the designer of the coin, was the third Chief Engraver at Mint in Philadelphia. He was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1785. His father, a German immigrant was a reverend. His mother, Elizabeth Sands was a descendent of the early settlers of Plymouth Colony. In 1818 Gobrecht married Mary Hewes. After an apprenticeship, he became an engraver of clockworks in Baltimore. Later, in Philadelphia, he joined a banknote engraving firm where he had an excellent job. He invented a machine that enabled one to convert a three-dimensional medal into an illustration. Understandably, Gobrecht was reluctant to join the Mint staff and work for less money. In order to persuade him to leave the engraving firm, Mint Director Robert Patterson convinced Chief Engraver William Kneass, incapacitated by a stroke, to give up a significant part of his salary so more money would be available to hire the new employee permanently. Gobrecht’s first work for the United States Mint was in 1826 when he made dies as an assistant to Kneass. When Kneass was unable to continue working because of the stroke, Gobrecht did all the die and pattern work. He was Chief Engraver from 1840 until his death in 1844. Famous for his Liberty Seated dollar obverse, which was used for all denominations of silver coinage, he was responsible for also designing the Liberty Head motif that was first used on the gold eagle, and then on the half cent, the cent, and the gold quarter and half eagles.
Gold coins with the S.S. Republic provenance are particularly desired by collectors and specialists. In its population report, NGC shows 27 eagles certified for this date. The present coin is the finest of the group with none better.
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