After the San Francisco Mint opened in 1854, most of the bullion from the California gold fields went to that facility for coinage and bullion deposits dropped precipitously at the New Orleans Mint. Accordingly, only small mintages of double eagles were turned out at New Orleans after that time. Only 6,600 of the O-mint Liberty double eagle were coined in 1860, the third-smallest production total of the New Orleans series behind only the 1854-O and 1856-O, both major rarities.
The coins were all released into circulation at the time of issue and circulated widely in domestic and overseas trade. It is doubtful that any were saved by contemporary collectors, as there was little numismatic interest in high-denomination gold coins in general, and branch mint issues in particular. As might be expected, the 1860-O is extremely rare in high grade today.
Only two specimens have been certified in Mint State grades, both at NGC.
One is the MS-60 Prooflike example that was recovered from the wreck of SS Republic. The other is the coin Heritage is featuring in the July 12-15 Summer FUN Signature Auction.
Collecting double eagles did not become popular in this country until after the gold recall of 1933, because the high face value of each coin made setting aside a comprehensive date run of twenties too expensive for all but the most affluent collectors. The 1860-O began appearing at auction soon after the presidential order took effect.
This coin is the finest-certified example of this elusive O-mint date , graded MS61 by NGC. The design elements are much sharper than the norm for the issue, which is known as something of a strike rarity. Liberty’s hair is unusually sharp on this piece and only star 3 shows slight softness on the obverse. The reverse devices are sharply rendered throughout. Like many examples seen, the yellow-gold surfaces display much prooflike reflectivity in the fields and show the expected number of minor contact marks for the grade. The overall presentation is most attractive. This coin boasts the highest available technical quality, strong historic interest, and absolute rarity. It is anticipated that a record price, since there is no finer 1860-O double eagle that has appeared at public auction, nor is there any finer specimen indicated in any reference.
NGC-Certified Liberty Double Eagles Currently Available on eBay