$20 Double O (SS Republic) NGC AU-58. One of an original
mintage of 141,000 pieces, struck in the first year
of double eagle production, at the New Orleans Mint.
While long regarded to be a common issue, modern reference
books have identified this issue to be very rare in
all grades above EF-45. The Mintmark is doubled, a diagnostic
frequently seen on this issue.
The California gold rush saw an immense increase
of the gold coin production in North-America. As a
result, two new denominations were born out of this.
One of these was the double eagle. The largest gold
denomination regularly produced by the United States
government, this denomination remained to be coined
until 1933, when all gold coins were recalled from
As the San Francisco Mint did not open until 1854,
and private coiners could not suffice the need for
coinage out of the gold dust, the New Orleans Mint
was the closest opportunity to mint federal gold coins.
Opened in 1837, this was one of three Branch Mints
that were introduced in the late 1830’s to help
the Philadelphia Mint, or so-called mother Mint.
The present piece is one of many gold coins that
were found in the wreckage of the S.S. Republic. Lost
at sea on October 25, of the coast of Georgia, the
ship and its contents remained there undisturbed until
July 2005, when it was finally discovered by the Odyssey
marine Exploration, Inc. The wreckage provided one
of the largest hoards of 1850’s and early 1850’s
gold coins, mostly in circulated condition.
This 1850-O double eagle circulated briefly, probably
only among banks, until it was put into storage. There
it remained until 1865, when it was hauled on the
S.S. Republic, to be found again almost 140 years
later in 1,700 feet deep seawater. While it has been
conserved, as all these coins are, this is one of
the finest 1850-O double eagles in existence today.
Both Q. David Bowers and Douglas Winter estimate that
only 3 to 4 Mint State 1850-O double eagles are still
in existence. This number, however, has been based
on rumors as a majority of the so-called mint state
coins are in reality just upgraded AU coins.
This coin is one of the few, true, high-end AU pieces,
known of this issue. A very strong strike, both at
the centers and at the periphery highlight this coin.
The majority of the pieces show at least some weakness
at the stars, which is completely absent on this coin.
Some small luster breaks, mostly on the reverse account
for the grade. No distracting hits or noted on the
semi-prooflike fields, which are overall very choice.
A very rare opportunity to acquire one of the finest
known 1850-O double eagles.
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