The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
An extremely popular issue among Southern gold specialists, the 1861-O is the final Double Eagle produced at the New Orleans Mint prior to 1879. The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 explains why three different governing authorities struck Double Eagles in New Orleans that year. In January, Union authorities delivered 5,000 examples. These were followed by an additional 9,750 pieces struck by the State of Louisiana from late January through May and a further 2,991 coins that the Confederate States of America produced after June 1. The combined mintage of the 1861-O Double Eagle, therefore, is 17,741 pieces. Numismatic legend has it that the surviving examples with soft definition on the bottom of the date are those coins that were produced by the Confederacy. This has been disproved because all survivors of this issue display some degree of weakness in this area. It seems that the date logotype was lightly impressed into the die. Extensive die polishing resulted in the prooflike finish that most '61-O Twenties display, but it also further weakened the bottom of the date. In a vain effort to correct this defect, an employee at the New Orleans Mint tried to re-engrave the lower edge of the 8.
While there is no way to determine which governing authority struck which 1861-O Double Eagles, the popularity and desirability of this issue remains constant among advanced collectors. Doug Winter's most recent (January 2002) estimate on the number of extant examples in all grades is 135-165 pieces, of which 30 coins grade AU50-AU58. To date, the '61-O is unknown in Mint State.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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