Double Eagle Varieties
By Doug Winter
In my opinion,
Type One double eagles have become popular
enough with collectors that it is time for some
of the more interesting varieties in this series
to come into their own.
I am beginning to notice that these varieties
are growing in popularity and that prices are
beginning to appreciate as well.
What are the most significant varieties in the
series, how rare are they and what sort of price
premium do they merit?
1852/1852 Double Date:
This variety is one of the most obvious double
dates that I have seen on a United States gold
coin. It can easily be detected with the naked
eye due to the heaviness of the date. The
original date was punched slightly too high and
then corrected with a second full punch placed
In the last three years I have looked at over
one hundred 1852 double eagles and fewer than
ten have been of this variety. Nearly all have
been in lower grades (EF45 and below) and I do
not believe that I have ever seen an 1852 double
date double eagle in Uncirculated.
This variety is recognized by NGC but it is not
currently recognized by PCGS. I think it should
sell for a 25-50% premium over a normal date
1852 and the premium in AU55 and higher grades
should be even more than this.
1854 Large Date:
This variety uses a date logotype from the
silver dollar. The same anomaly occurs on 1854-O
eagles. The 1854 Large Date is easy to recognize
as the date is significantly larger than on the
Small Date. I have spoken with collectors who
have been confused by these varieties and I
think it might be a bit easier to think of the
Small Date as a Medium Date. In addition,
remember that on the Large Date the 1 in the
date in the date nearly touches the truncation;
on the Small Date it is distant.
This variety has become widely accepted with
collectors in the last five years and it is
recognized by both PCGS and NGC. Prices have
risen considerably and a nice AU now sells for
close to $10,000 when available. The finest that
I am aware of was the NGC MS64 sold by Heritage
as Lot 2010 in their 2007 ANA auction. It
brought an impressive $80,500.
It is still possible to cherrypick this variety
despite its relative popularity. I have seen at
least five or six in older NGC or PCGS holders
1858-O Blundered Die:
This is probably the least well known of the
varieties listed in this article but it is among
the more visually impressive. Under
magnification it is possible to see another 8
protruding from the bottom of the left part of
the lowest curl into the field below. One of the
reasons that people do not know about this
variety is that it was not well-described by
Breen when he mentioned it on page 565 in his
Encyclopedia. Another reason is that yours truly
has not done a good job publicizing this variety
in his New Orleans books and his Type One book.
To view a nice blow-up image of the 1858-O
Blundered Die double eagle, I suggest going onto
Heritageís website and looking at the close-up
that provided for the example they sold as
There are probably fewer than ten 1858-O
Blundered Die double eagles known and the
Heritage cataloger was able to account for just
four. The finest appears to be Heritage 12/04:
6843, graded MS61 by NGC.
This variety is very high on the coolness scale
of Type One double eagle varieties but the
rarity and current high price of the 1858-O make
it the least likely of the varieties that Iíve
mentioned so far to begin to sell for a premium.
It is not currently designated by either PCGS or
1859-S Double LIBERTY.
This variety has been known for at least a few
decades but it remains reasonably unheralded. It
is among my favorite Type One varieties and it
is very easy to see with light magnification.
The final five letters in the word LIBERY show
NGC designates this variety while PCGS does not.
The current NGC population includes five coins
(the finest of which grades MS60) and another
six from the S.S. Republic.
I have personally looked at close to two hundred
1859-S double eagles and Iíve seen around five
or six with the double LIBERTY. I think this
variety is very impressive visually and it
should command a significant premium in all
grades. I would suggest around 50% in EF40 to
AU55 grades and as much as a 100% premium in
AU58. It is hard to figure what this coin is
worth in Uncirculated given its rarity.
San Francisco Mintmark Variations:
The final group of Type One varieties is less
likely to catch on with collectors given the
fact that these varieties are not as impressive.
This could change if either NGC or PCGS were to
start designating them but even if this were to
happen, I doubt if they will catch fire
The 1857-S is known with a Medium S mintmark and
with a Large S. The latter is much scarcer.
The 1863-S is known with a Medium S mintmark and
a Small mintmark.
It is possible that other mintmark varieties
will be discovered as time progresses.
As Iíve mentioned in other blogs, collecting
gold coins by variety remains a reasonably
obscure area of focus for most numismatists. But
I could really see some of these Type One
varieties becoming readily accepted in the
coming years (as the 1854 Large Date already
has) and their values rising accordingly.
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