Historic Paquet 1861-S Double Eagle Offered in our June 2021 Costa Mesa Auction

The 1861-S Paquet Reverse is perhaps the most famous
collectible Type I double eagle and is recognized well beyond the specialists
of the series. Anthony C. Paquet was born in Hamburg, Germany on December 5,
1814, and arrived in Philadelphia in 1848. In early 1857, he took up contract
work for the Philadelphia Mint before finally being hired on as an assistant
engraver. By far his most well-known work is the United States military’s
highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor instituted by President
Abraham Lincoln on July 12, 1861. Among his other projects at the Mint were a
series of unsigned pattern coins, including a fascinating copper double eagle
pattern, Judd-257. To this day, the reverse dies he prepared for the 1861
double eagles remain the only coin designs that have been positively attributed
to Paquet, who left the Mint in 1864.

On January 5, 1861, production of the new reverse dies by
Paquet began at the Philadelphia Mint and was almost immediately halted after
concerns were raised that the narrow rim of the reverse design would wear
poorly. Mint Director James Ross Snowden sent directives to New Orleans and San
Francisco to cease use of the new dies and return to using the original
Longacre dies. Snowden’s directive did not reach the San Francisco Mint until
early February, and only after 19,250 double eagles with Paquet’s reverse were
struck and subsequently issued. The typical survivor is well worn, if not also
impaired, and to this day, not a single problem free Mint State example has
been confirmed by PCGS or NGC.

We are thrilled to offer a beautiful VF-35 (NGC) 1861-S
Paquet $20 in our June 2021 Auction, which is one of only about 250 survivors
known. It displays bright yellow-gold surfaces that are accented by deeper
honey patina in the protected areas on both sides. The details are uniformly
bold with sharp denticles and full definition to Paquet’s distinctive elongated
lettering on the reverse.  Alongside
several New Orleans issues from the 1850s, the 1861-S Paquet reverse represents
a key to this type and we expect considerable excitement when this piece
crosses the auction block!

This exceptional 1861-S Paquet double eagle will be featured
in lot 2571 of our June 2021 Showcase Auction, hosted at the state-of-the-art
auction gallery in our new Costa Mesa, California headquarters. The June sale
arrives on the heels of our record-setting auctions in March and April that saw
combined prices realized above $60 million. With seven lots from these events
exceeding $1 million, the numismatic market clearly remains strong heading into
the summer auction season. For questions about the auction or to order a copy
of the printed catalog, please contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries by telephone at
800-566-2580 or by email at [email protected].

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