Original and solid for the grade with even medium green-gold hues seen on the obverse and the reverse. A few small reeding marks can be seen on the obverse with one at the truncation and another inside of the first star. This date is not easily found with better color and surfaces than what is seen on this pleasing, affordable example.
Recently expatriated from Europe and very crusty with plenty of dirt in the recesses, especially on the reverse. This coin has enough body to grade AU58 but there is a very thin and easy to miss hairline on the obverse from the area between stars four and five on the obverse into the top of the head. The typical AU55 example of this date is bright and very heavily abraded. This piece shows nice orange-gold and rose color and lacks the dense abrasions so typical to the issue. Scarcde in properly graded AU55, very scarce in AU58 and very rare in Uncirculated.
You can disregard the NGC population of this date. In AU58 it is quite scarce and it is a really tough coin in Uncirculated that is nearly impossible to find above MS60 to MS61. This fresh example has a good deal of luster, minimal marks and nice medium orange-gold color. It is cleaner than usual and quite well detailed with better sharpness at the centers than what is normally seen for the date. A small grease stain at star two on the obverse is as made and shows that this piece has not been dipped. If available, an MS61 1861-S double eagle would cost in excess of $15,000 and it probably would not have much more eye appeal than this "slider." Since the beginning of 2009, only three AU58 1861-S double eagles have appeared at auction and I have had only three in inventory in close to two years.
This is certainly not a scarce date until you get into the Mint State grades but locating choice, unmolested About Uncirculated examples is much harder than you might think. In my experience, most 1859-S double eagles have been dipped and show extensive abrasions as well. This choice example has attractive deep original color and a considerable amount of luster for the grade. To find a finer 1859-D double eagle in this date and price range will prove next to impossible.
Not many non-specialists are aware of this but the 1854-S is one of the hardest Type One double eagles to find with original color and surfaces. There are dozens of 1854-S double eagles graded AU55 and higher but virtually all are from the S.S. Yankee Blade shipwreck and have seawater surfaces. I have only personally seen or handled two or three Uncirculated 1854-S double eagles that were original (none were better than MS61) and the present example is one of the two or three best circulated pieces that I have seen or owned. It shows lovely deep green-gold color with darker highlights. My guess is that it was found in Europe and somehow has escaped the conservation that has befallen most of the non-shipwreck examples of this date. Yes, it's expensive (I had to really pay up for it!) but if you are a very savvy buyer of Type One double eagles you know how rare and important this coin is.