1856-O double eagle leads $17.7 million Heritage Long Beach coin auction


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Designed by James B. Longacre, the 1856O $20 double eagle features a bust of Liberty wearing a coronet similar to the one used on smaller gold coins since 1838 but of a much more refined style. A facing heraldic eagle with a circlet of stars and a radiant arc above graces the reverse. Selling at more than $1.4 million, it is the most ever paid at auction for any New Orleans-minted coin. Photos courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.

DALLAS – When the hammer came down on the dramatic 1856O $20 double eagle on May 29 during Heritage Auction Galleries’ Signature® Long Beach U.S. Coin Auction, the $1,437,500 total (including 15-percent buyer’s premium) elicited a spontaneous ovation from the buzzing crowd in the Long Beach Convention Center.

The combined totals for the Rare U.S. Coins and World Coins auction in Heritage’s annual start of summer event in California was approaching $18 million as of June 1, with post-auction buying continuing to push the total even higher.

“To say that we’re pleased with these results is an understatement,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auction Galleries. “Everyone seems to be scrambling to figure out if the overall economy is improving or worsening; one thing is for certain, though: high quality rare U.S. and World coins are selling as well as ever and still provide one of the surest investment opportunities in the market.”

The 1856O double eagle—certified Specimen-63 by PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Service)—is the rarest New Orleans-minted double eagle, and the finest known example of this famous American coin. At more than $1.4 million, it is the most ever paid at auction for a New Orleans double eagle—or for any New Orleans-minted coin.

The seven-figure price is even more impressive when considering the journey this particular coin has taken at Heritage Auction Galleries alone, where it has been sold twice before, bringing $310,500 in 2002 and $542,800 in 2004.

On the world coin auction side of the Long Beach event, the ever-surging Chinese economy proved its influence on the coin market as an extremely rare and popular People’s Republic gold 2000 Yuan 2000, KM1327, Choice Proof, Year of the Dragon issue—a large and impressive coin by any standard—exceeded pre-auction estimates to realize $115,000.

“The year of the Dragon 2000 Yuan is a magnificent coin,” said Rohan, “fully deserving of its now elevated status. There are only 15 of these in existence, with this one being number 10.”

For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.

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People's Republic gold 2000 Yuan 2000, KM1327, Choice Proof, Year of the Dragon issue. The coin has eight sides with scalloped edges and is part of the Lunar series with Dragon obverse/Yangzhou five pavilion bridge reverse. Mintage of just 15 pieces, this being number 10. Housed in the original case of issue with certificate of authenticity.

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