To me there is nothing more beautiful than a strongly struck, mint-state or almost-uncirculated, Type 1 Liberty double eagle with a minimal number of contact marks. Conversely, there is nothing uglier than a heavily worn Type 1 double eagle or a highly graded coin with numerous contact marks. Thus, as a type collector, my challenge is to find a double eagle that meets both my criteria, AND more importantly, is affordable. Fortunately, I had a wide range of dates that I could choose from.
Examples of the Type 1 or for that matter Type 2 Liberty double eagle are scarce in mint-state condition. When scanning through numerous auction listings, I just have to stop and stare awhile when I came across an MS-64 example with only a few contact marks. The beauty of these coins simply captivates me. While I've always dreamed of owning the aforementioned coin, realistically I'll probably never be able to afford it. This meant that I was resigned to search through more readily available and affordable AU listings for my collection.
I am of the belief that a cherry-picked AU coin can have as much eye appeal as an MS coin and in some cases more. However, when it comes to double eagles, numerous contact marks can be a huge show stopper. I get it that gold is both heavy and soft and thus lends itself more easily to contact marks but if I am going to own just one of these, by golly it's going to have nice eye-appeal. Being a realist, I was also willing to pay a premium over market value for a nice looking coin.
After on and off searching, I oddly found the coin I was looking for in one of those web page ads, you know the ones on the top, sides, and bottom of the web page you're surfing. Since I frequent coin sites, the ad was for Heritage. There I found a common date 1852 NGC AU-55 double eagle that was just gorgeous. This coin has NO distracting contact marks, and accenting pockets of mint luster around Liberty's mouth, eyes, hairline, coronet, and head. Adding to the coin's eye appeal is the mint luster in the crevices between the locks of Liberty's hair and in the protected areas around the stars giving them the appearance of glowing. In my mind the only real draw back was a little bit of black and green residue on the coin's reverse. This I quickly determined was something I could live with especially given the fact that I absolutely loved the obverse. Additionally, this coin is strongly struck with full star lines and incredible hair and facial detail making the accenting luster look all the more stunning. In my mind this was a must-have coin and I put in a very strong bid for it that prevailed at the final hammer.
When compared to the spaghetti hair style of the Type 3 Liberty double-eagle the hair on the Type 1 is much more realistic, appearing like glistening waves rather than combed spaghetti. The Type 1 almost reminds me of pictured models with beautiful air brushed hair! The down side of the Type 1 Liberty double eagle is that it only takes a little wear to make the hair look matted down and clumped together. Thus a strong strike on the Type 1 is essential to its eye-appeal. Add the contact marks and you are looking at something that is down-right ugly. I'll say this though for the Type 3, and its that it wears much better than its Type 1 and 2 counterparts.
What puzzles me about this coin is how it avoided getting the contact marks that are all to common on this type of coin. With that, I formulated a theory which I suppose is as good as any. I theorize that the original owner of this coin picked it up uncirculated at a bank or even at the treasury's cash window. Then that person probably held it as a pocket piece separated from any other coins. It could have been held in a vest pocket which may account for the even polish like wear that contrasts the frosty pockets of mint luster and the fine hairlines in the coin's field. The residue on the reverse could have been from, you guessed it, sweat!
Finally, when it comes to eye-appeal I think this coin looks better than most of the MS-62 examples I've seen. Needless to say, this coin is one of my favorite coins that I'm proud to own and at a price that was affordable.
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