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Complete Set of Gold $20 Type 1 Double Eagles

About the Coin

There was only one 1861-O double eagle recovered from the SS Republic and this coin is it. This coin is one of four coins that were unique examples found in the shipwreck. The other unique coins found were an 1854-O, 1860-O, and 1861-S Paquet. The 1860-O can also be found in this collection.

What makes the 1861-O historically significant is that it was the last type 1 double eagle minted in New Orleans due to the Civil War, and also the fact that it was struck by the Union, the State of Louisiana, and the Confederacy during the year.

No one knows which authority produced which coins, so beware when someone tells you otherwise. There is a weak date and strong date variety. Q. David Bowers has speculated that weak date coins showing a patched base of the 8 in 1861 are coins produced by the Confederacy. Others believe it is the strong date that is most likely produced by the Confederacy. These theories are based on a belief that only a single set of dies were used. There are others that believed separate sets of dies were used for the weak date and strong date varieties. If true, then its anyones guess as to which came first.

My belief is that only one set of dies was used based mainly on the fact that the positioning of the weak and strong dates is exactly the same. If two sets of dies were used, I would think there would be some difference, even if small, in the positioning since the dates were hand punched into the dies.

Also, with one set of dies being used, the weak date obviously preceded the strong date. This is based not only on the fact that there is an obvious die crack on the strong dates that is missing from the weak dates, but also there is die clashing near the ear on some strong dates that is reminiscent of the die clashing found on the 1859-O. This clashing does not appear on weak date coins. So for my weak date example from the SS Republic, I believe you can say "Union Made."

Designer: James B. Longacre
Weight: 33.436 grams
Diameter: approx. 34mm, reeded edge
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper/silver

1861-O Gold $20 Double Eagle

Type 1 No Motto — S.S. Republic

SS Republic Population

Total Mintage: 17,741
Overall Rarity Ranking: 8 of 44 coins
Overall Population: approx. 136 to 166 coins

Finest recovered from the shipwreck

1861-O Gold $20 Double Eagle SS Republic Obverse
1861-O Gold $20 Double Eagle SS Republic Reverse

The Arlington Collection of Double Eagles