The 1859-O Coronet $20 double eagle is another in a line of extremely rare gold coins struck by the New Orleans Mint in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Starting in 1854, gold shipments from the California gold fields to New Orleans began to dwindle significantly, coinciding with the opening of the San Francisco Mint. In 1859, enough gold was received to strike only 9,100 double eagles, one of the lowest annual totals ever for the Louisiana mint.(1)
Nearly all the 1859-O double eagles were released into circulation and travelled extensively throughout the Deep South and west of the Mississippi River.
Coin professionals rank the 1859-O as the fourth rarest double eagle from the New Orleans Mint, trailing only the 1854-O, 1855-O, and the 1856-O. Survivorship of the 1859-O is thought to number less than 100 examples.(2)
Fascinating Fact: During the 2003 shipwreck recovery of the S.S. Republic, two examples of the 1859-O were brought to the surface in About Uncirculated condition. Another relatively high grade example was found in a hidden coin stash on a Mississippi plantation. In the 1990’s a “small group” of circulated pieces were released onto the market from Europe.
Twenty dollar double eagles for the most part failed to capture the attention of the collecting public until well into the 20th century. This was especially true for branch mint coins.(3)
It was the Gold Recall order of 1933 that finally sparked keen interest in branch mint gold coins. Investors realized one of the few strategies to legally purchase gold in the United States was to collect rare double eagles, which the order allowed. This placed a much higher demand on scarce branch mint gold, such as the 1859-O. Prices rose swiftly, and have consistently trended higher ever since.
|Estimated survivors in all grades: 95
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
|PCGS Rarity Scale: 8.0
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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