The obverse of this coin displays an image of Liberty facing to the left, encircled by a constellation of 13 stars, with her hair elegantly cascading down her shoulder. On her crown (coronet), the word "LIBERTY" is raised in relief, and the date can be found at the bottom of the design. The inspiration for this portrait of Liberty is a modification of a Greco-Roman statue that greatly impressed the coin's designer, James Longacre. On the reverse side, you'll see an eagle with its wings gracefully outspread, proudly carrying a Union shield on its chest. In its right talon, the eagle grasps an olive branch, while its left talon firmly holds a bundle of arrows. Above the eagle's head, there is an oval arrangement of 13 stars along with a radiant pattern. The denomination is positioned at the bottom, expressed as "TWENTY D." Notably, Longacre incorporated double scrolls flanking the shield, symbolizing the double eagle denomination. The left scroll bears the inscription "E PLURIBUS" in relief, while the right scroll displays "UNUM," also in relief.
Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles were minted annually from 1850 to 1866, and this series contains a multitude of rare specimens. All Mint-state examples are, at the very least, considered scarce, with most falling into the rare category and quite a few being categorized as very rare. Branch Mint issues, in particular, are exceptionally scarce, with releases from New Orleans ranking among the rarest within the series. Interestingly, a significant portion of the 1861 New Orleans issue was produced during the period of Confederate authority. Unfortunately, distinguishing between coins struck by the United States and those struck by the Confederate States is not feasible. According to Breen, approximately 71% of the total mintage was produced under Confederate authority, suggesting that any collector in possession of an 1861-O specimen likely holds a coin struck while the Confederate flag was flying over the Mint.
The 1861 Paquet Reverse issue has achieved legendary status. In that year, Mint Engraver Anthony Paquet introduced modifications to the reverse design, most notably altering the lettering and the rim. Paquet's version featured more elongated and slender letters, with a significantly narrower border compared to the original Longacre design. Although artistically pleasing, it soon became apparent that these changes were impractical, as the narrow rim failed to adequately protect the design from wear, and the altered design resulted in premature die breakage. The Mint Director promptly ordered the reinstatement of the old reverse and, via telegram, instructed the San Francisco Mint to cease using the new design. Only two Paquet Reverse specimens from the Philadelphia Mint are known to exist, while San Francisco Mint coins, with a mintage of 19,250 before cessation, occasionally become available. They are highly sought after and carry a premium value beyond what their mintage figures might suggest.
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.
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CAC was founded by leading members of the numismatic community, including John Albanese, a respected authority on coin grading and the rare coin market.