Doug Winter: The following information is from my eBook on Type One Liberty Head Double Eagles at http://doubleeaglebook.com/
The 1854 Large Date double eagle employs the date logotype found on the silver dollars and certain New Orleans eagles of this year. It is not known how many were produced but given the relatively small number known today, it is likely that fewer than 10% of the original mintage used the Large Date punch.
In the first edition of this book, I did not include the Large Date as a distinct Type One issue as it was not yet recognized by both grading services and was not included in all specialized collections. Today, it is recognized by both PCGS and NGC and is very popular with Type One collectors. Thus, it is now included.
STRIKE: This is generally a well-struck issue. The obverse shows strong detail with the exception of the curls around the ear which can be flat at times. The reverse is just a bit less well struck. Some examples show areas of metal flow on the reverse from 9:00 to 12:00 which can give the unfair impression of wear. The central reverse is generally well defined with strong lines in the shield and nearly full talons on the eagle.
SURFACES: There are almosy always deep, detracting marks on the surfaces. On the few high grade pieces which exist, these may not be as densely clustered but they are still present and are often situated in very noticeable locations.
LUSTER: The luster on this variety tends to have a grainy texture and it is different in appearance than on the 1854 Small Date double eagle.
COLORATION: The natural coloration is a deep green-gold and this may be accentuated by orange-gold or rose undertones. Most 1854 Large Date double eagles have been dipped or processed at one time and finding one with natural color is very difficult.
EYE APPEAL: This variety typically shows below average quality eye appeal. Most are heavily abraded been cleaned or dipped. Locating an example with good eye appeal is very difficult and a choice high end example is worth a strong premium above a typical piece.
INTERESTING VARIETIES: The 1854 is, of course, an “interesting variety” in and of itself. There are a number of interesting die characteristics seen on all examples. These are as follows:
All known examples show a small but distinct die dot on the throat of Liberty which is positioned over the far right of the 8 in the date.
There are a series of small diagonal die scratches or lines which run from left to right between the curls that are the second to lowest and the lowest on the portrait.
High-grade pieces show a clashmark which looks like a “sprig” in the inner part of the right obverse field adjacent to the fourth curl from the bottom.
None of these characteristics are seen on the 1854 Small Date.
HOARDS: There were a total of three examples in the S.S. Republic.
BUYING TIPS: As recently as a decade ago, savvy collectors were still able to cherrypick examples of this variety. It is now very hard (although not impossible) as a few coins in very old NGC or PCGS holders are not designated as to variety.
AUCTION RECORD: The record price for this variety was set by Bowers and Merena 9/08: 831 which brought $96,600. This coin was graded MS64 by NGC. It was earlier sold as Heritage 2007 ANA: 2010 where it brought $80,500. This was, at the time, another record price for this issue.
FINEST KNOWN: The finest known is owned, again, by Bill Crawford and the coin is graded MS64 by PCGS. It was purchased, as an NGC MS64, as Bowers and Merena 9/08: 831 ($96,600) and it was earlier Heritage 8/07: 2010 ($80,500). The second best of which I am aware is an NGC MS62 that I sold to a Rhode Island collector; I bought it directly out of the Pittman I sale in 1997 where I paid $10,450.
TOTAL KNOWN: 150-200+
Very Fine: 20-30
Extremely Fine: 70-90
About Uncirculated: 54-72
POPULATION FIGURES: As of the beginning of 2015, PCGS had graded one in MS61 and another in MS64 for a total of two coins. NGC had graded two in MS60, six in MS61, two in MS62 and one in MS64 for a total of 11 in Uncirculated. It is likely that the number of NGC MS61’s is slightly inflated and the NGC MS64 may be the same coin as the PCGS MS64. CAC has approved a single Uncirculated coin, an MS64.
PERFORMANCE SINCE 2002: In the current market, a choice About Uncirculated example of this variety (equivalent to AU55) would sell for $14,000-16,000. Back in 2002, this same coin would have sold for $5,000-6,000.
COMMENTS: The true scarcity of the 1854 Large Date is now recognized after years of neglect. Examples are still being found in Europe and unattributed in older domestic collections but it is clearly scarce in the lower About Uncirculated grades and rare in properly graded About Uncirculated-55 to About Uncirculated-58. In Uncirculated, this date is one of the rarest Type One issues from the Philadelphia mint.
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