The 1850-O $20 Liberty Gold Double Eagle, bearing an PCGS AU55 grade and a CAC endorsement, provides a fascinating glimpse into American coinage history. Its subtle wear and distinct origin at the New Orleans Mint make it a valuable collectible, particularly attractive to numismatists with an interest in the historical context and rarity of pre-Civil War gold coins.
On the obverse side of this coin, you'll find a portrayal of Liberty facing to the left, encircled by a constellation of 13 stars, while her hair gracefully cascades to her shoulder. Adorning her crown, or coronet, is the raised inscription LIBERTY, and the date is situated at the coin's lower edge. This portrait was inspired by a Greco-Roman statue that deeply impressed its designer, James Longacre.
The reverse side features a majestic eagle with outstretched wings, proudly bearing a Union shield on its chest. In its right talon, the eagle clutches an olive branch, while arrows are held in its left talon. Above the eagle's head, an oval contains 13 stars, surrounded by an intricate pattern of rays. The coin's denomination is indicated at the bottom as TWENTY D. Notably, the double scrolls flanking the shield serve as a reference to the double eagle denomination. The left scroll bears the inscription E PLURIBUS in raised relief, while the right scroll features UNUM, also in raised relief.
Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles were minted annually from 1850 to 1866, encompassing a series that includes several rare specimens. Mint-state examples are consistently scarce, with the majority classified as rare and a significant number falling into the very rare category. Branch Mint issues are particularly hard to come by, and among them, the New Orleans releases are some of the scarcest in the series.
Interestingly, a substantial portion of the 1861 New Orleans issue was minted under the authority of the Confederacy. Unfortunately, it is impossible to distinguish between coins struck by the United States and those minted by the Confederate States. According to Breen, around 71% of the mintage was produced under Confederate authority, making it highly likely that any collector in possession of an 1861-O specimen owns a coin struck while the Confederate flag flew over the Mint.
One coin that has achieved legendary status is the 1861 Paquet Reverse issue. In that year, Mint Engraver Anthony Paquet introduced modifications to the reverse design, notably altering the lettering and the rim. Paquet's version features elongated and slender letters, with a significantly narrower border compared to the original Longacre rendition. While artistically appealing, the changes proved impractical, as the narrow rim failed to adequately protect the devices from wear and led to premature die breakage. Consequently, the Mint Director ordered the reinstatement of the old reverse design and instructed the San Francisco Mint to cease using the new design via telegram. Only two specimens with the Paquet Reverse from the Philadelphia Mint are known to exist. San Francisco Mint coins are occasionally available, as 19,250 were minted and issued before production was halted. Despite their mintage figure, these coins remain highly desirable double eagles, commanding greater value than one might expect.
A LITTLE STICKER MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Within each number of the coin grading scale is a small range of condition from low-end to high-end. Certified coins of the same grade can be of varying quality. Many of today’s collectors want coins that are solid or premium quality for their assigned grade. CAC holds coins to a higher standard so you can be confident in the value of yours. We verify previously graded coins … and award our sticker only to those coins that meet the standard for today’s selective buyer.
WHAT THE CAC STICKER MEANS:
- Verified. Your coin has been verified as meeting the standard for strict quality within its grade.
- Guaranteed. CAC stands behind our verification.
THE CAC STICKER IS BACKED BY EXPERIENCE.
CAC was founded by leading members of the numismatic community, including John Albanese, a respected authority on coin grading and the rare coin market.