In the last decade and a half, I have been instrumental in helping to create what is now a very solid collector market for choice and rare Type One Liberty Head double eagles. This is not to say that there weren’t great collections of these coins in the 1970’s and 1980’s; there were, but just not to the extent that there are today.
Of course, it didn’t exactly hurt this market to have no less than three major shipwrecks (S.S. Central America, S.S. Brother Jonathan, and S.S. Republic) located during the past two decades. This brought thousands and thousands of Type Ones into the market, and this number included many heretofore unthinkable pieces. These coins were professionally marketed and attracted new buyers into the market; some of whom became serious long-term collectors in their own right.
The S.S. Republic didn’t get the notoriety of its counterparts but there were some amazing coins included in the treasure. The date that saw the best single coins, from a quality and appearance standpoint, was the 1865 double eagle. This makes sense as the boat sank in 1865 and these coins were essentially “brand new” and fresh from the Philadelphia mint.
No less than 271 Uncirculated examples of the 1865 double eagle were found in this treasure and some of these coins were truly special. Most were in the MS61 to MS63 range and were characterized by great luster and detail, but scattered scuffs and abrasions. A few dozen Gems were uncovered. And then there was one remarkable coin that was hand selected by the graders at NGC to represent this date in the Museum Collection which was formed by an investor in the salvage operation.
This incredible 1865 double eagle was graded MS66 by NGC and awarded a “star” designation for having exceptional eye appeal. The coin has semi-prooflike luster and its strike is as sharp as on any business strike Type One double eagle from the Civil War era which I have ever seen. It shows glowing golden-yellow color and its surfaces are nearly perfect save for a few minor scuffs in the fields.
There are a number of factors that make this an important coin.
- It is the second finest Civil War double eagle of any date after the famous PCGS MS67 1861 which sold for $352,000 in a 2013 auction.
- It is the single finest-known 1865 double eagle. The next best example is probably the PCGS/CAC MS65 which sold for $88,125 in a Heritage 2013 auction.
- It is the single highest-graded gold coin of any date or denomination from the S.S. Republic.
This coin was sold to an East Coast collector who is putting together a memorable set of Type One double eagles. This individual already owns the single finest known 1862 (an NGC MS64) and the single finest known 1864 (a PCGS MS65), so the addition of the finest known 1865 now gives him no less than three Philadelphia Civil War coins which are unimprovable.
For more information on choice and rare Type One Liberty Head double eagles or on any facet of collecting American coinage, please contact Doug Winter at (214) 675-9897 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 1862 is the rarest Type One double eagle from the Philadelphia mint, eclipsing the 1859 and the 1863. It is hard to find in all grades and when available, it tends to be very unappealing. This example, which was recently located in Europe and which is identifiable as such by the plastic "gasket" that PCGS uses for coins they grade in their Paris office, is one of the few totally original examples of this date that I can recall seeing. It has deep, even orange-gold and greenish hues with very choice surfaces and sharp detail. There is some hidden luster within the protected areas and, to be honest, I think the coin is much closer to being an EF45 than an EF40. No EF40 examples have appeared at auction since Heritage 12/08: 6325 (graded by NGC) brought $6,325 and the present example is, in my opinion, as nice (or even nicer) than Heritage 9/20: 5570 (graded EF45 by NGC) that realized $8,625. An important Type One double eagle for the advanced collector.