US Coins

Paquet reverse double eagle returns to market

Eight years after crossing the auction block for $1.61 million, the illustrated PCGS MS-61 1861 Coronet, Paquet Reverse gold $20 double eagle surfaces for a return auction engagement August in Rosemont, Ill., by Heritage Auctions.

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An 1861 Coronet, Paquet gold $20 double eagle that last sold in 2006 for $1.61 million is returning to auction.

The coin is one of only two known. 

The example to be offered by Heritage Auctions on Aug. 7 in Rosemont, Ill., last sold by the auction firm on Aug. 14, 2006. The coin is graded Mint State 61 by Professional Coin Grading Service. 

The $1.61 million price realized includes a 15 percent buyer’s fee added to the final closing hammer price.

Pedigree information indicates the coin first appeared at auction in Edward Cogan’s October 1875 sale of the Col. Mendes I. Cohen Collection where it brought $26.

Heritage is offering the coin during its August Platinum Night session, in conjunction with the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money. The lot is in the consignment of Part II of The Charles G. Wright Family Collection.

Heritage is conducting several separate auction sessions, as is Stack’s Bowers Galleries, both as official auctioneers of the ANA convention.

The 1861 Coronet, Paquet Reverse double eagle is considered by many numismatic experts to be the fourth rarest regular issue United States coin.

Three regular U.S. coins are considered rarer, each of them unique — the 1870-S Seated Liberty half dime, the 1870-S Indian Head $3 gold coin and the 1873-CC Seated Liberty, No Arrows dime. 

Experimental design

The Paquet Reverse double eagle is so-named as the work of U.S. Mint Assistant Engraver Anthony Paquet. 

In his work, Paquet was known to have a penchant for a particular font style. The style was characterized by tall, thick verticals and diagonals on the letters, with thin horizontals and serifs.

Paquet adopted this font for use on his 1860 patterns. The font style was subsequently approved in late 1860 for use on the regular issue Coronet double eagles. 

After the Philadelphia Mint produced examples, U.S. Mint Director James Ross Snowden quickly determined the Paquet Reverse unsuitable for high-speed production and ordered the entire Philadelphia Mint emission melted. Only the two examples from the Philadelphia Mint are known to remain, although a third is rumored to exist.

Production elsewhere

A number of San Francisco Mint coins, however, entered circulation before that mint received its order to halt production.

Dies with the Paquet design were delivered to the Branch Mints in New Orleans and San Francisco before the decision to stop production was made.

The New Orleans Mint did not strike any 1861-O Coronet, Paquet double eagles, having received a telegraph message to halt production before it began. 

Because no transcontinental telegraph wires extended to San Francisco from the East, by the time Snowden’s edict reached the West Coast facility, it had already struck 19,250 of the coins, all of which are reported to have entered circulation. 

Today, approximately 100 examples of the 1861-S Coronet, Paquet double eagle are extant, with no examples certified in Mint State.

The only other extant Philadelphia example of the 1861 Paquet Reverse double eagle last sold at auction in Auctions by Bowers and Merena’s November 1988 sale of the Norweb Collection. The coin, offered as Mint State 67 but not certified by a third-party grading service, sold for $660,000, which included a 10 percent buyer’s fee.

The coin had been acquired Aug. 16, 1954, by Emery May Norweb from John J. Ford Jr. of the New Netherlands Coin Company in New York City. Norweb purchased the coin not long after New Netherlands Coin Co. had placed the successful bid through Spink & Son Ltd. during the 1954 sale of The Palace Collection of King Farouk of Egypt.

The coin currently resides in a private collection.

Visit the Heritage Auctions website.

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