By Q. David Bowers – Co-founder, Stack’s Bowers ……
Among early double eagles, the rarest of the rare are New Orleans coins in Mint State. We proudly present a landmark coin in our November 2017 Baltimore Rarities Night Auction–the very finest 1858-O certified by either service. Graded MS-63 by NGC, both sides exhibit razor sharp striking detail that is universally full from the rims to the centers. Bright golden yellow surfaces are semi-prooflike with appreciable reflectivity in the fields. Otherwise, this landmark is satiny in texture with only small, wispy handling marks precluding an even higher grade.
The 1858-O is a low-mintage issue with just 35,250 coins struck. The vast majority of examples were consumed by commercial use, and most numismatic scholars accept an estimate of only 150 to 200 pieces extant in all grades. The typical survivor grades EF or AU and is likely to trace its provenance to a group of circulated examples that entered numismatic channels during the 1990s. Mint State coins are exceedingly rare, with Doug Winter (Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909, 2006 edition) accounting for just six or seven examples at any Mint State level. Four of the Uncirculated survivors are from the treasure recovered from the SS Republic shipwreck. The present example is the finest of that quartet and also the finest certified 1858-O double eagle from any source. A true “wonder coin” among New Orleans Mint twenties, this would serve as a focal point in any specialized gold collection.
The SS Republic foundered in a hurricane off the coast of Georgia in 1865 shortly after the end of the Civil War. At the time of its loss, the ship was carrying $400,000 in silver and gold from New York City to New Orleans. Located in 2003 and subsequently salvaged by Odyssey Marine Exploration, the shipwreck yielded a treasure of 51,000 coins and 14,000 other artifacts. Among the coins were numerous double eagles from the 1850s and ’60s, including a number of condition rarities such as the 1858-O offered here.
This incredible treasure will be featured in our November 2017 Baltimore Auction, appearing alongside other rarities, including a Mint State 1792 Judd-1 Silver Center cent from the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation. Call us today at 1-800-458-4646 to secure your copy of this exciting event. Also, download our mobile app to participate via your Android or Apple device. Email [email protected] for more information.