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Rare Key Date 1854-O Double Eagle at GreatCollections

Rare Key Date 1854-O Double Eagle at GreatCollections

Currently, GreatCollections is auctioning a rare 1854-O Liberty Gold Double Eagle graded AU 55 by PCGS. This rare opportunity for collectors to acquire one of the key dates in the Liberty Head Double Eagle series should not be overlooked. Bidding on this exceptional coin ends in 16 days on Sunday, June 5, 2022, 7:39:42 PM Pacific Time (10:39 Eastern). Collectors of American numismatic gold know that this coin would be a cornerstone of any collection. At the time of publication, the highest of 63 bids stands at $112,500 (USD).

With a very small mintage of 3,250 pieces, the 1854-O is one of the rarest Double Eagle issuances from the New Orleans Mint – second only to the 1856-O. This is probably due to the fact that the United States Mint had just opened its San Francisco facility in 1854. Yet the small mintage is not the only reason this coin is so scarce. When struck in 1854, not only did very few collectors have the financial ability to collect such high-value pieces but also branch mint pieces were not regarded as particularly collectable. It wasn’t until 1933 that the first auction of an 1854-O Double Eagle was recorded when the John Nickerson Collection was sold by Thomas Elder in December of 1933. The coin was priced at $200, or $4,448 adjusted for inflation.

Due to the lack of early collectors, many pieces did not survive, further reducing the number of extant examples. In fact, PCGS and NGC have cumulatively graded 11 pieces in AU 55 or better. NGC is responsible for three in AU 55 and four in AU 58, while PCGS lists three in AU 55, and one in AU 58.

But if collectors look only at the population numbers, they will be tricked into believing that there are 24 pieces in AU 50 or better. However, many pieces seem to have been resubmitted for grading multiple times, and there are believed to be only five to seven unique pieces in these grades. As a result, the 1854-O is even rarer in high grades than appears on the surface.

This particular coin has an auction history dating back to 1966 when it was sold by Lester Merkin, who described the piece as “Exceedingly rare” and as only “one of eight known” (Auction Catalogue, page 28). Merkin even commented that “another, or anything better, [was] not likely to be offered again in the near future” (Auction Catalogue, Page 28). In August 2007, this piece realized $494,500. Only one year later, in October 2008, it set the current auction record for this type with a hammer price of $603,750.


The obverse of this early Double Eagle depicts the left-facing head of Lady Liberty. This Greco-Roman revival bust of Liberty is shown with her hair shaped into a bun with several strands draped down the back of her neck. Liberty wears a simple coronet engraved with the word LIBERTY. She is ringed by 13 six-pointed stars representing the original 13 states. Below is the striking date, 1854.

This particular coin has the Type 1 heraldic reverse design. The eagle, with outstretched wings, clutches an olive branch and bundle of arrows in its claws. In front of its breast is a shield that the eagle is protecting representing the USA. United States Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre intended that this design would be a variation of the Great Seal of the United States. In an allusion to the coin’s double denomination, the eagle is holding an ornate double-ended ribbon in its beak. This ribbon bears the motto “E Pluribus Unum”. Above the eagle’s head are 13 stars in a circular halo superimposed over an arc of radiating sunbeams. The central design is ringed with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination TWENTY D. Since this particular coin was struck at the New Orleans Mint, the O mintmark is placed under the eagle’s tail feathers.

The edge of the 1845-O Double Eagle is reeded.

Bidding ends on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at 7:39:42 PM Pacific Time (PT).

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To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past eight years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.

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