The Arlington Collection Image Gallery

Complete Set of Gold $20 Type 1 Double Eagles

About the Coin

The 1861-S Paquet reverse double eagle was once thought to have been just a pattern coin. The problem with this logic is that pattern coins were only minted in Philadelphia, not San Francisco. Also, the fact that this coin was released into circulation makes this a regular issue and not a pattern.

The coin gets its name from its designer, Assistant Engraver Anthony C. Paquet. The most noticable difference between the Paquet reverse and the earlier design is that the lettering on the Paquet is noticably taller.

But this coin should not exist. Apparently the feeling was that the coin's rim was two narrow and would cause problems. A message was sent to San Francisco telling them to halt production and revert back to the old reverse die design. Unfortunately (or fortunately for collectors), the telegraph only went as far as Missouri. By the time the message arrived in San Francisco, 19,250 coins with the Paquet reverse had already been struck and released into circulation.

This San Francisco double eagle is very popular among collectors due to it being the only double eagle with the Paquet reverse that was released into circulation. As a result, this coin is a must have for type collectors. Because of this demand, the 1861-S Paquet reverse has a significantly higher premium attached to it than other double eagles of similar rarity and grade.

Nevertheless, the 1861-S Paquet reverse is the rarist of all the San Francisco type 1 double eagles, just beating out the 1866-S No Motto for the title. Only one example was recovered from the S.S. Republic shipwreck emphasizing the rarity of this variety.

The 1861-S Paquet Reverse is listed in the book 100 Greatest U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

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

1861-S Gold $20 Double Eagle

Type 1 No Motto — Paquet Reverse

Total Mintage: 19,250
Overall Rarity Ranking: 6 of 44 coins
Overall Population: approx. 91 to 101 coins

1861-S Paquet $20 Double Eagle Obverse
1861-S Paquet $20 Double Eagle Reverse

The Arlington Collection of Double Eagles