Douglas Winter Numismatics, a Portland Oregon rare coin firm specializing in choice 18th and 19th century United States gold coinage, recently set a world auction record for a Liberty Head double eagle and for any Liberty Head gold coin by purchasing a PCGS MS61 example of the excessively rare 1861 Paquet Reverse $20.00 for $1,645,000. The coin was purchased out of the just-concluded Heritage 2014 ANA Platinum Night sale where it was offered as Lot 5702.
There are just two 1861 Paquet Reverse double eagles known and this issue is ranked as the fourth rarest regular issue United States coin, after the unique 1870-S half dime and three dollar gold pieces and the 1873-CC No Arrows dime. It is by far the rarest regular issue double eagle, and no set of Liberty Head double eagles can be complete without the inclusion of this issue.
The coin was immediately sold into an anonymous collector’s set of Type One double eagles, completing this set. According to Winter, “As far as I know, this is only the third truly complete set of Type One double eagles assembled in modern times, after the Dallas Bank Collection/Jeff Browning collection (sold by Sotheby’s/Stacks in October 2001), and the Charles G. Wright Family collection, sold by Heritage auctions at various sales in 2014. The addition of the Philadelphia Paquet finished the set, and the new owner is thrilled with this purchase.”
The numismatic history of this 1861 Paquet is interesting. It was first offered for sale in the Col. Mendes Cohen collection (Cogan, October 1875) where it brought $26. It appears to have been spent at some time after this and exported to Europe as bullion where it lay until 1965, when it was rediscovered by an American dealer in Paris. It went through various dealers and collections until it was purchased by Jeff Browning who held it until his estate sold it in 2001 for $345,000. It later sold for $1,610,000 in the 2006 ANA auction conducted by Heritage.
According to data provided by Whitman Publishing in the 2015 edition of the Redbook, Winter’s purchase ranks as the 26th most expensive American coin ever sold at auction, and the single most expensive Liberty Head double eagle and Liberty Head gold coin of any denomination.
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