Graded PCGS Secure AU-58, this 1861-S Coronet, Paquet Reverse gold $20 double eagle sold in the Stack’s Bowers Galleries June 27 sale in Baltimore for $188,000.
The funeral medal, cataloged as Baker 169 in W.S. Baker’s Medallic Portraits of Washington, is uniface, and measures 24 millimeters by 29 millimeters.
The medal was intended to be worn by women in memorial to the late president, who died on Dec. 14, 1799.
Approximately a dozen of the gold medals are known to exist, with several of them in institutional collections.
According to the auction description, “On January 13, 1800, goldsmith and jeweler Eben Moulton of Cornhill Street in Boston listed the following classified advertisement in the Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist: ‘FOR THE LADIES. Washington Medals, designed to put up in Lockets &c. executed by Mr. Perkins, for sale at No. 11 Cornhill by Eben Moulton.’ ”
The pioneer gold coin or slug is the Short Arrows variety, attributed as Kagin 1b as cataloged in Donald Kagin’s Private Gold Coins and Patterns of the United States.
When the U.S. Assay Office of Gold shut down, Dec. 14, 1853, the new San Francisco Mint had not yet started coin production. The Assay Office facility was being refurbished to house the Branch Mint.
John G. Kellogg helped fill the gap by opening his own assaying firm and striking $20 gold pieces in 1854. The first $20 Kellogg & Co. coins were issued on Feb. 9, 1854, according to Kagin.
Because of the immense popularity of the gold coins with the public, who used them in commerce, most examples known are heavily circulated or otherwise impaired.
For more information on the sale, visit the auction firm's website.