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September 5, 2013

COIN OF THE WEEK

 

VERY RARE 1866-S No Motto $20 PCGS XF45 CAC - $34,250.


1866-S Double Eagle - 1866-S $20 No Motto PCGS XF45 CAC. This last Type 1 Twenty Without Motto type, Western branch mint 1866-S double eagle is tied for the third finest known at CAC. The coin is a mixture of rose and yellow gold with the former outlining the devices. Splashes of muted mint luster are seen on both sides of the coin. The colors and luster prove the coin’s originality. The surfaces are clean for the grade with no notable abrasion marks or other distractions. The strike is strong with full details on the centers of the stars and the design details of the reverse, especially the eagle. The CAC sticker tells us that the coin is a premium quality piece that fully merits the assigned grade.


The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the original double eagle by enlarging the oval of stars above the eagle’s head and placing the motto in it. This modification did not require a major alteration of the design as was the case with adding the motto to the lower denominations. It was made at the behest of Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of Treasury and Congress because of pressure brought about by the Reverend M.R. Watkinson of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania.


Despite this new coinage act, the 1866 San Francisco double eagle coins were minted without the new motto. Obviously older dies were in use in the branch mint and were used for this date. All branch mint double eagle dies were made in Philadelphia, and it is reasonable to assume that the trip was too long for the new dies to reach San Francisco on time.


The double eagle was designed by James B. Longacre. It shows a Liberty head facing left, wearing coronet inscribed LIBERTY. Her hair is tightly tied in the back with two loose curls hanging down her neck to the end of the truncation. She is surrounded by thirteen six-pointed stars with the date below. Dentils are near the edge on both sides of the coin. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle with elaborate ribbons on both sides of the shield extending from the top corner down to the eagle’s tail feathers. The ribbons are inscribed, on the left E PLURIBUS and UNUM on the right. The ribbons were added to the design to symbolize the denomination since this was the first twenty dollar coin. There is an oval of thirteen stars above the eagle’s head and an arc of rays from wing tip to wing tip behind the upper half of the oval. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is in an arc above the eagle, and the denomination TWENTY D. is below. The mintmark is between the tail feathers and the N of TWENTY.


Longacre was born in Pennsylvania in 1794. When he finished his apprenticeship in Philadelphia as a bookseller and a banknote engraver, he worked on his own as an engraver of book illustrations and bank notes. His works included one on the signers of the Declaration of Independence and another on stage personalities. In 1830, Longacre began a series of biographies of famous men in the military and the political arena. In 1834 the result of this series became the National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans that was published in four volumes. Longacre and those who worked with him became famous because of this work.


In 1844 Longacre came to work at the Mint. He was opposed by Franklin Peale, the Chief Coiner. Peale was probably responsible for some blundered dies that Longacre was criticized for making. Peal was involved in a private, illegal medal manufacturing business using Mint facilities. He was concerned that this new political appointee would interfere with his business, and he resisted Longacre’s appointment as Chief Engraver. Finally in 1854, Peale was fired by President Franklin Pearce. Longacre flourished in his position and was responsible for creating many new designs including the Indian Head cent, the two-cent piece, the Shield nickel, the Liberty Head gold dollar, the Indian Princess gold dollar, the three-dollar gold piece, and the Liberty Head double eagle.


The San Francisco Mint opened in 1854 because of the need to coin gold resulting from the California Gold Rush. In the West there was an abundance of gold bullion, nuggets and dust; however, there was also an acute shortage of circulating coinage. Congress authorized this mint to relieve the shortage and coin silver and gold and because transportation of bullion to Philadelphia was time consuming and hazardous. Because of its proximity to the Gold Rush area, San Francisco was chosen as the site of the new mint. In 1874 it moved into a new building called the Old United States Mint or the Granite Lady. It is one of the few structures that survived the earthquake of 1906. It remained in service as a mint until 1938, when the present facility opened.


In its first year of operation the Mint made four million dollars in gold coins from bullion. The second building, the Old United States Mint, was designed by Alfred B. Mullett in Greek Revival style. It was built in an E-shape with a central pediment portico. There was a completely enclosed courtyard that had a well. It was these features that saved it in the fire that resulted from the earthquake of 1906. The building was situated on a concrete and granite foundation that was made to prevent tunneling into its vaults. In 1906 there was $300 million, a third of the United States’ gold reserves, in its vaults. Frank Leach and his men worked heroically to successfully preserve the building and the bullion. The mint was able to resume service and operated until 1937. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961.


Since most of the building was made of sandstone, the nickname of “The Granite Lady” is a misnomer. Only the basement was made from granite. It was opened to visitors in 1993 and sold to the City of San Francisco for one dollar in 2003 for use as the Museum of the City of San Francisco.


The CAC sticker indicates that the coin is of premium quality . This is an awesome specimen of this rare double eagle that is amazingly original and beautiful. PLEASE click on the larger images and see for yourself. Only 2 1866-S No Motto Double Eagles coins have been approved by CAC in XF-45 with a mere 2 higher. This is an extremely rare coin in any grade making this fantastic specimen an opportunity to own this great 66-S Type 1 Double Eagle that's among the nicest you will ever have a chance to own. Few and Far between, You will not want to sell this one once you own it. A Keeper! Please contact me by email or phone to reserve this coin.


Very Truly Yours,

Tom Pilitowski
www.usrarecoininvestments.com
Toll Free:
1-800-624-1870
Email: TomPilitowski@yahoo.com

 


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