Of the three mints operating in the South prior to the Civil War, the New Orleans facility was the only one to reopen as a coin production hub. By 1879, after repairs were made and new machinery installed, the O-Mint was back into the coin making business after an 18-year hiatus.(1)
The primary reason given for reopening the New Orleans Mint was to assist with the mandates of the Bland-Allison Act of 1878, which required huge production quantities of the Morgan silver dollar.(2) In the first year after the branch mint’s rebirth, nearly 2.9 million 1879-O Morgan dollars were struck.(3)
Included in the production mix with the millions of silver dollars were 1,500 gold eagles and 2,325 double eagles. No one has ever brought to light the purpose of the token gold coinage, but some scholars theorize it was done simply to commemorate the resumption of coinage at the historic facility.(4)
There were to be more $10 eagles struck in subsequent years. However, for the $20 denomination, 1879 was the final hurrah in the Crescent City, distinguishing it as the only year Type 3 Coronet double eagles bearing the “O” mintmark were issued. (Type 3 double eagles feature the IN GOD WE TRUST motto and DOLLARS fully spelled out).
Sometime after entering circulation, many of the 1879-O twenties were sent overseas to effectuate international transactions.(5) As of 1997, the known population of the 1879-O numbered about 70-80.(6) In recent decades, additional examples have been repatriated from foreign bank hoards to bring the estimated survivorship today to 152.(7)
The increased supply of 1879-O double eagles hasn’t hurt its price performance one bit. To the contrary, as a one-year standalone Type 3 double eagle from the iconic New Orleans Mint, this rare date has consistently gained in popularity. Also, collectors who assemble type coin sets place this essential coin high on their Want Lists.(8)
Did we mention the 1879-O has the second lowest mintage of all New Orleans double eagles behind only the famous 1856-O?
The available supply is nowhere close to matching the demand for this one-of-a-kind rarity. Just look at the value trendlines on the chart below. Anytime this top-rated gold coin crosses the auction block, spirited bidding is certain to follow.
|Estimated survivors in all grades: 152
? 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: 7.4
? 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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Preview of eBay selection (you may have better luck searching for the 1879-O $20 with HERE link just above):
|Trendline Avg = 34.44||BEST|
Historic Value Trend Charts:
|Last updated 9-13-23||Return to Key Date Coin List|
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