New Orleans coins that are in Mint State are considered one of the rarest in early double eagle coins. Stack’s Bowers’ November 2017 Baltimore Rarities Night Auction will present the finest 1858-O Liberty Head Double Eagle coin, certified by either service. With razor-sharp, striking detail on both sides, this coin is graded MS-63 by NGC, with detail that is universally full from the rim to the center. Appreciable reflectivity is apparent in the fields, and the coin is semi-prooflike with a bright golden yellow surface. Other features of this landmark coin include a satiny texture, and small, wispy handling marks that preclude a higher grade.
Only 35,250 coins were struck in this low-mintage issue, with the majority of examples consumed for commercial use. An estimate by most numismatic scholars is an approximate 150 to 200 pieces extant in all grades. The average surviving coin is graded either EF or AU, with the likely origins being a group of examples that were circulated through numismatic channels throughout the 1990s. Exceptionally rare are the Mint State coins, with an estimate of only six or seven examples at any Mint State level by Doug Winter (Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909, 2006 edition).
Of the Uncirculated survivors, four are recovered from the treasure of the SS Republic shipwreck. The finest of these four is the current example, also considered the finest certified 1858-O double eagle from any source. This coin would provide an excellent focal point in a specialized gold collection, as it is considered a “wonder coin” among New Orleans Mint twenties.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, in 1865, the SS Republic went down in a hurricane off of the Georgia coast. The ship was carrying $400,000 in silver and gold at the time of its demise, transporting goods from New York City to New Orleans. Odyssey Marine Exploration located and salvaged the ship in 2003, discovering a treasure of 51,000 coins and 14,000 additional artifacts. Coins included were a number of double eagles from the 1850s and 1860s, with a number of rarities, including the present rare 1858-O double eagle.
Along with other rarities, this rare treasure will be featured in Stack’s Bowers 2017 Baltimore Auction, along with a Mint State 1792 Judd-1 Silver Center cent found in the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation. For more information on the event, contact Stack’s Bowers at 1-800-458-4646 or download the mobile app on your Android or Apple device. Email info@StacksBowers.com for more information.