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1856-O $20 trades

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One of the finest known examples of the 1856-O double eagle was sold for an undisclosed price by Douglas Winter Numismatics of Portland. Ore., a specialist in U.S. gold coinage.

The coin was graded AU-55 by the Professional Coin Grading Service, Winter said. It was purchased from Summit Numismatics of St. Paul, Minn., for $525,000 and sold to a New England collector who specializes in New Orleans gold coinage.

?Handling this coin was a real thrill for me,? Winter declared. ?I have bought and sold a number of other 1856-O double eagles, including the finest known, but this was the first I have handled in a few years. My client has been searching for a nice example of this rarity for a few years and I was happy to be able to sell him what I thought was an especially nice coin for the date and grade.?

The 1856-O double eagle is the rarest gold coin struck at the New Orleans mint, narrowly eclipsing the 1854-O double eagle. There was a total of 2,250 pieces originally struck of which an estimated 20-30 are known today. PCGS has graded a total of 11 coins, including four in AU-55 and two in AU-58. 

Winter, who published the standard reference work on New Orleans gold coins in 2006, called ?Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint, 1839-1909,? has researched the availability of high-grade examples of the 1856-O double eagle and believes that only four to six are known in properly graded about uncirculated as well as a single piece in uncirculated.

According to Winter, ?I believe that the coin in the New England collection may be the third finest known 1856-O double eagle. The only better pieces I know of are the remarkable NGC Specimen-63 that was last sold by Heritage as Lot 6372 in their June 2004 auction and a PCGS AU-58 owned by a prominent Midwestern collector that is probably from the famous Eliasberg collection sold by Bowers and Ruddy in 1982.?

Double eagles were produced by the New Orleans mint from 1850 through 1861 and again in 1879. A total of 13 different issues were coined with a total mintage figure of just 831,516. Due to their size, they are extremely popular with collectors and are probably the most sought-after gold coins from New Orleans.

?Everyone who collects double eagles dreams of owning an 1856-O,? Winter said. Due to the popularity of this issue, examples are usually only offered for sale when great collections are auctioned. ?The owner of the New England collection was thrilled to add this coin to his collection. He believes that his collection of New Orleans coinage now rivals virtually any set ever formed.?

Douglas Winter Numismatics? Web site is www.raregoldcoins.com. For more information on the 1856-O double eagle,  or on any U.S gold issue, contact Doug Winter by e-mail at dwn@ont.com.

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