Type One Liberty Head Double Eagles

1858

1858 $20.00 NGC AU55

1858 $20.00 NGC AU55

MINTAGE: 211,714

The 1858 has the second lowest mintage of any Philadelphia double eagle produced during the 1850’s. It is not as scarce as the 1855 or 1856 (although I once regarded it as being the second scarcest issue after the 1859), but it is a very tough issue in higher grades.

STRIKE: This is an issue which tends to show an average quality strike. The curls around the face are sometimes weak, as are the ones located below Liberty’s ear. There is often weakness at the top of the head and the edge of the bun. The stars show partial to full radial line detail but the date is sometimes not sharply impressed. The reverse is better struck with sharp central and peripheral detail.

SURFACES: The majority of 1858 double eagles show very scuffy surfaces with deep, detracting abrasions. Some show mint-made roughness which can be detracting as well. It is possible to locate a clean, wholesome piece but such coins are scarce and worth a premium.

LUSTER: The luster tends to be a bit subdued and has a satiny texture. A few are slightly prooflike but these are often very bagmarked. There are not a ton of 1858 double eagles which show nice, unimpaired luster and many have been cleaned or processed at one time.

COLORATION: The natural coloration ranges from medium green-gold to a darker yellow-gold hue. There are not many 1858 double eagles known which show natural coloration.

1858 $20.00 NGC MS62, S.S. Republic

1858 $20.00 NGC MS62, S.S. Republic

EYE APPEAL: The typical piece shows below-average eye appeal. This is due to conspicuous abrasions on the surfaces, inferior luster, and signs of recent cleanings or dipping. A CAC quality 1858 double eagle is very scarce and worth at least a 20% premium over a typical quality example.

INTERESTING VARIETIES: At least one interesting variety is known.

1858 Misplaced Date: Traces of a misplaced 8 can be seen on the denticles below the 5. This variety is impressive and appears to be quite rare. It is not currently recognized by either grading service, but it may be in the future.

PROOFS: An unknown very small number of Proofs were struck. There are three known, two of which are impounded in permanent collections (the Smithsonian and the American Numismatic Society).

HOARDS: There were five examples in the S.S. Republic, including two in Uncirculated. A few lower grade pieces are still being located in Europe and other overseas sources.

BUYING TIPS: In About Uncirculated-55 and above, the 1858 double eagle is a scarce coin which remains relatively affordable. At current levels, I feel it is one of the better values in the Type One series.

AUCTION RECORD: The current auction record for this date is $38,188 which was set by Heritage 8/13: 5903, graded MS62 by PCGS and approved by CAC.

FINEST KNOWN:  The finest known is a PCGS MS64 with CAC approval in the Hansen-Crawford collection. There are two or three in nice MS63 including Bowers and Merena 3/09: 3889 (approved by CAC) and Heritage 1/04: 3098, ex Dallas Bank collection.

RARITY:

TOTAL KNOWN: 800-1000+

BY GRADE:

  • Very Fine: 1250-300
  • Extremely Fine: 400-500
  • About Uncirculated: 130-170
  • Uncirculated: 20-30

PCGS Number: 8923

POPULATION FIGURES: As of the beginning of 2017, PCGS has graded seven in MS60, eight in MS61, three in MS62, four in MS63, and one in MS64 for a total of 23 in Uncirculated. NGC has graded seven in MS60, 16 in MS61, 10 in MS62, and one in MS63. This includes two in Uncirculated from the S.S. Republic. This is a total of 34 in Uncirculated. These figures are inflated by resubmissions, especially in the MS61 to MS62 range. CAC has approved one in MS61, two in MS62 and one each in MS63 and MS64 for a total of five in Uncirculated.

PERFORMANCE SINCE 2002: In the current market, a choice About Uncirculated example of this date (equivalent to AU55) is worth around $3,750-4,250. In 2002, the same coin would have had a value of $1,500-2,000. In the current market, an average quality Uncirculated example (equivalent to MS61) is worth $14,000-18,000. In 2002, this coin would have been valued at $6,000-7,000.

COMMENTS: With a bit of luck and some patience, you can buy a nice AU55 1858 double eagle for around $4,000. In the current market for Type One double eagles there are not many really undervalued issues, but the 1858 is clearly one of them.

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