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All Posts Tagged With: "Double Eagle"

1861-S Paquet $20 Gold Double Eagle to be offered at Central States Coin Show

Despite the common misconception, Anthony C. Paquet was born in 1814 not in France but in Germany–specifically, Hamburg–of French ancestry. His father, reportedly Toussaint Fran├žois Paquet, was a bronze worker. “Anthony” could equally likely have been named with the German form “Anton” or the French “Antoine,” anglicizing his name upon coming to America in October 1848.

Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre was some 20 years Paquet’s senior, born in 1794 and having been hired at the Mint in 1844 after the death of Christian Gobrecht. Although evidence is sketchy, it appears that Longacre may have prevented Paquet from showing his true potential at the Philadelphia Mint.

Paquet worked as an engraver and/or die-maker in Philadelphia from 1850 through 1855 and in New York City in 1856-57. He was hired as an assistant Mint engraver in October 1857, moving back to Philadelphia where he lived at 402 Blight Street, according to an 1860 city directory. He worked for the Mint as assistant engraver until 1864, afterward completing occasional Mint assignments on a contract basis.

Paquet furnished letter punches for pattern coinage, possibly the same punches that were used on the 1857 Flying Eagle cents. Paquet’s lettering was extremely tall with thin vertical strokes, producing an unusual effect.

Andrew W. Pollock III in United States Patterns and Related Issues illustrates (Pollock-3131; Judd-A-1857-1) an interesting uniface experimental piece showing the varying diameters of the dime, quarter, and half dollar with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA inscribed within each. Pollock notes that “the lettering is similar to that featured on many pattern coins attributed to Anthony Paquet.”

The Paquet Reverse double eagles of 1861 are among the few U.S. circulating coinage designs that can be definitively attributed to Paquet. The memorable Paquet design lacked a broad rim, making the coins prone to extensive abrasion, and the design was recalled soon after its inception. All but two of the Philadelphia Mint pieces struck were melted, but the San Francisco Mint struck some 19,250 pieces before news of the recall reached that distant facility.

The variety was promptly forgotten until 1937 when it was announced in Numismatic News. Today most certified examples are in the XF-AU range with a few dozen pieces each certified at NGC and PCGS, making it the rarest S-mint Type One double eagle.

This is one of the few high grade examples that have surfaced over the past 70 years. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold and noticeable traces of mint luster surround the peripheral devices. Each side is remarkably free from the distractions that normally plague these coins. The reason for the frequently seen abrasions is attributed to Paquet’s lowered rim, a design feature that allegedly gave the interior design features less protections from contact with other coins. The design motifs are sharply defined throughout. This is a rarely offered opportunity for the astute collector of 19th gold. Census: 16 in 50, 29 finer (3/10)

Offered as Lot 2306 in the Heritage 2010 April-May Milwaukee, WI CSNS US Coin Auction #1139

Coin Profile: The 1920-S Saint-Gaudens Gold Double Eagle

The 1920-S double eagle is a prized rarity in the Saint-Gaudens series, and it holds a unique historical position in that assemblage. Before the United States entered the First World War, gold twenties actually circulated in the western part of the country. Coins from that early period are more available today than later dates such as the 1920-S.

The war brought inflation, with consequent rising prices in gold and other metals. Double eagle production in San Francisco was halted in 1916 and did not resume until 1920. A large mintage of 558,000 pieces was produced at the San Francisco Mint that year, but the commercial role of the double eagle had changed. The big gold coins no longer circulated freely, and ordinary citizens seldom saw them. Instead, the government and the banking system kept the coins in reserve. By this time, double eagles served two purposes: The government used some, stored in mint bags, to redeem Gold Certificates. Other coins were used as specie payments to foreign governments and banks.

Private ownership of gold became essentially illegal after the Gold Recall Act of 1933, and most of the government-held coins were melted in 1937, converted into gold bars, and transported to Fort Knox. The coins used in international trade largely escaped this fate, and many of them were found decades later in European banks. Enough circulated specimens of the 1920-S exist to suggest that a few bags may have reached circulation, but examples have never been readily available. Almost all of the mintage was melted. The 1920-S issue was the earliest date subject to this destruction, and it is demonstrably scarce today.

Collecting large-denomination gold coins became popular for the first time during the 1940s. Some of the greatest collections of that era included specimens of the 1920-S double eagle and helped establish the 1920-S as a rare and desirable coin. However, it was the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection, sold by B. Max Mehl in 1949, that really put the coin on the map.

Mehl’s usually terse lot description expanded to eight lines on this occasion. He noted that Dr. Green had purchased the coin at the Bell sale for $160 and asserted it was, “One of the most difficult dates and mints of the Double Eagles to obtain.” The Green sale had a dramatic effect on double eagle collecting in general. (more…)