1861-S Paquet $20
This rare issue bears the name of Anthony C. Paquet, the assistant mint engraver who executed a new reverse design for the double eagle in 1860. Paquet's reverse is distinguishable from Chief Engraver Longacre's work by his use of tall, narrow lettering in the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination TWENTY D. The Paquet reverse also features a very thin border, and this feature proved to be the downfall of the design. This border did not provide sufficient protection for the reverse devices, and Mint employees feared that the Paquet double eagle would not hold up well in circulation. All but two of the examples struck in the Philadelphia Mint during 1861 were recalled and melted before they were released into commercial channels. By the time similar orders reached the West Coast, however, the San Francisco Mint had struck and distributed 19,250 examples dated 1861. Survivor of this S-mint delivery are the rarest Type One double eagles struck in this coinage facility, and they probably now number no more than 90-100 coins in all grades.
This is an uncommonly attractive coin for a Paquet double eagle that saw light circulation. The surfaces retain outlines of original luster to the devices, and they are free of sizeable and/or singularly mentionable abrasions. Both sides are, of course, lightly abraded in appearance, but one must accept this feature as par for the course as far as a circulated double eagle from the early frontier era is concerned. Otherwise medium-gold color surfaces reveal an opaque hazy appearance. Well defined with a boldly executed strike, this coin comes highly recommended for the advanced gold specialist. Although once considered a pattern, the '61-S Paquet twenty is now rightly regarded as a regular issue. Examples, while rare in their own right, are highly prized as the only realistically obtainable survivors of this important one-year type in the U.S. gold series. (PCGS 8936) About Uncirculated