1856-O Liberty Double Eagle

The 1856-O Liberty Double Eagle is the rarest New Orleans Double Eagle, with a mintage of only 2,250 pieces. Similar to the situation for the 1854-O, these coins were immediately placed into circulation, resulting in a small surviving population of coins. It is believed that only 15 to 20 coins have survived across all grades.

Most 1856-O Double Eagles are in lower circulated grades with a few about uncirculated pieces. There are no mint state circulation strikes known to exist. However, one piece with fully prooflike surfaces was graded as being a Specimen strike and sold for an impressive $1,437,000 in May of 2009. The reasons for the coin’s existence are unknown, and even its status as a Specimen strike has been disputed. Its pedigree goes back to Mint superintendent Charles Bienvenu, who bought the coin in 1856 shortly after it was minted. The coin remained in his family until 1979, when it was first traded for $215,000.

Recently, in 2010, a fresh 1856-O Double Eagle was discovered in Ohio amongst a small number of gold coins held by a family for nearly 100 years. The coin was subsequently authenticated by NGC and graded XF 45+. The piece sold for $375,000 at auction.