Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 19,250
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: Anthony C. Paquet
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1729.87 (12/1/2020)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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1861 S PAQUET $20 MS obverse 1861 S PAQUET $20 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

The 1861-S Paquet Reverse is among the most favored and storied coins in U.S. numismatics. The Liberty Head double eagle series is a long one, measuring nearly six decades in length. But it is one that, although studded with numerous low-mintage rarities, for the most part lacks an abundance of design variations, errors, and varieties.

That is perhaps part of why the 1861-S Paquet Reverse double eagle is so popular, as it offers both of those treasured attributes: It is a numismatic (and conditional) rarity with a small mintage, and a significant design variant by an underrated but interesting Mint engraver, Anthony C. Paquet. The issue is listed in the Top 100 U.S. Coins by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

Despite the French surname, Paquet was born in 1814 in Hamburg, Germany, probably the son of one Toussaint Fran‡ois Paquet, a bronze-worker. The younger Paquet emigrated to America in 1848, at age 34. By the mid-1850s he had an engraving shop in New York City. Paquet hired on at the Mint in 1857 and stayed there until 1864, at which time he re-entered the private sector, but he continued doing contract work for the Mint until as late as 1877. Writing in the Bass catalog, Bowers said of Paquet's pre-Mint days, 'Unfortunately, there seems to be virtually nothing in present numismatic literature to identify tokens, medals, or any other metallic items he may have created prior to coming to the Mint, save for a John C. Fremont campaign medal' with a reverse inscription of 'THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS ECHO BACK FREMONT, etc.'

Although Paquet is known to have designed quite a few pattern pieces, they are unsigned, including 1858-dated quarters and half dollars (Judd-221 through 223), 1859-dated half dollars (Judd-247 through 255) and double eagle patterns of 1859 and 1860 (Judd-260, 272a, 273), and at least one 1877 half dollar (Judd-1540 and 1541), among others.

Paquet also left a rich legacy of Mint medals. Many of them are signed, interestingly, Paquet preferred a script style for his signature rather than the traditional block letters usually seen. Signed Mint medals of Paquet include the important 1860 Washington Cabinet medal (Baker-326, Julian-MT-23) commemorating the establishment of the Mint's collection of Washingtonia. The creation of the Washington Cabinet was, in itself, the likely impetus for many subsequent Mint shenanigans, patterns, and fantasy pieces created as trade bait for the Washington items, but that is a story for another day ...

A curious characteristic of Paquet's work is a peculiar preference for a font (letter style) identified by tall, thick verticals and diagonals on the letters, with thin horizontals and serifs. This font was used on the Paquet Reverse patterns of 1860 and was adopted in late 1860 for the regular-issue double eagles of 1861. Dies were shipped to the branch mints in New Orleans and San Francisco, and the Philadelphia Mint actually produced examples. But Mint Director James Ross Snowden deemed them unsuitable for high-speed production and ordered the entire Philadelphia emission destroyed. Only two pieces of the 1861 Paquet Reverse are known today.

The New Orleans Mint was notified via telegraph in time to halt production of any 1861-O Paquet double eagles--but in the case of San Francisco, there were as yet no transcontinental telegraph wires to allow instantaneous transmission of the order to 'cease and desist.' By the time the San Francisco Mint received the Snowden directive, the facility had struck 19,250 examples of a modified design--apparently all of which promptly entered circulation. There are no Uncirculated examples known today, and most of the 100 or so surviving specimens grade only Very Fine to Extremely Fine.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/2/2020

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1861 S PAQUET $20 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 15000 20000 25000 40000 76500 85000 100000 142500 215000 - - - - - - - - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 78
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 58

The chart showing F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 11/24/2020 1861 S PAQUET $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---167141412159-----------78
-----------------------
----------1-----------1
-----------------------
Total---1671414121510-----------79
 ---1%8%9%18%18%15%19%13%----------- 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1861 S PAQUET $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base536756566616743185151124611529119701275714619163531772319200210122668239036579815980961679635926554867549
546359766888779294251134011676122321337815197168101821519804229023080045351585906043262317642446621570926
000000116761223213378151971681018215198042290230800453515859060432623176424400
000000118231249513998157751726618708204082479234918516665920061056629546489600
Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.