Proper Attention, Paquet Will Soar
By Paul M. Green
sometimes involve great mysteries and that is
the case with the 1861 Paquet reverse double
eagle. With only two examples known, it ranks in
the top group of great U.S. rarities, although
it has so far not proven that at public auction.
That day, however, may be coming.
The Paquet reverse was the creation of Anthony
Paquet, who had been directed by Mint officials
to create a design that, while similar to the
regular reverse, would be modified slightly.
This was done in the hope of preventing dies
from cracking, which had been a problem with
The differences were subtle, involving taller
letters in the inscriptions and a more compact
arrangement. Apparently there were high hopes
for the new reverse as dies were made for
Philadelphia, San Francisco and New Orleans. The
idea never really had a chance to be used in New
Orleans as the facility was taken over by the
South, and only double eagles with the old
reverse were produced.
In San Francisco, they cheerfully started making
and releasing 1861-S double eagles with the
Paquet reverse only to receive the order to stop
using the reverse and return to the old one. By
the time the message arrived on Feb. 2, 1861, a
total of 19,250 examples of the Paquet reverse
had been struck and released.
Philadelphia, being the main facility, was where
use of the new reverse would take place first.
We know that happened on Jan. 5, 1861. It also
ended that day. The fear was that the rim might
abrade quickly, which was even worse than
cracking dies as had been the problem in the
past. Mint Director James Ross Snowden halted
production and sent out the order to the other
Precisely how many were made at Philadelphia and
what happened to them remains a mystery. Some
suggest that however many were made, all but two
were melted. It is the opinion of others that a
few may have been released.
We know there has been some dispute over the
idea that all Philadelphia 1861 Paquet reverses
were melted and that those known were made
especially for collectors later. The possibility
exists, but the proof of that fact is lacking.
If there was a case for the coin being specially
made, it is with the glorious MS-67 example that
sold in the Norweb sale in 1988 for $660,000.
Even in MS-67, a regular mintage and not a
special one is perfectly consistent with the
grade as they only made a few and were probably
taking special care.
Without more evidence, the idea of a special
collector production cannot be proven. Even if
it was the case, it would not influence the
potential price much.
What the Philadelphia 1861 with a Paquet reverse
needs is increased recognition of being a
significant rarity. If that happens at the right
auction, it is likely to break all sorts of