Doug Winter: The following information is from my eBook on Type One Liberty Head Double Eagles at http://doubleeaglebook.com/
Until the discovery of the S.S. Brother Jonathan, the 1862-S was a date which was not often seen above the lower About Uncirculated grades. The discovery of a small group of Uncirculated examples in the S.S. Republic made this date slightly more available in high grades but the 1862-S remains very elusive in Mint State.
STRIKE: This is one of the weaker struck Type One double eagles from any facility. The obverse is flat and it even has a slightly concave appearance. Little detail is seen on any of the curls and the hair at the top of Liberty’s head is not clearly defined. Few of the stars on the obverse show radial line detail. The reverse is better struck with some of the center and much of the border showing strong detail. A network of fine die cracks can be seen through the letters on some pieces. On others, the stars above the eagle’s head are not fully brought up. The quality of strike seen on this date makes it difficult to accurately grade.
SURFACES: The surfaces on most 1862-S double eagles show heavy, obtrusive abrasions. A few are seen with slight mint-made roughness in the fields. This is among the more difficult Type One double eagles from this mint to locate with choice surfaces and any minimally marked piece is scarce and desirable.
LUSTER: The luster is below average. Higher grade coins often have subdued frost with a slightly grainy texture. A few of the pieces from the S.S. Brother Jonathan have noticeably subdued luster but the S.S. Republic coins tend to be brighter and more vibrant.
COLORATION: The natural color is a medium to deep rose-gold. Some have color which is more orange-gold in hue. It is difficult to locate an 1862-S with good color as most have been cleaned or dipped.
EYE APPEAL: The level of eye appeal seen on this date tends to be below average. Many 1862-S double eagles are very poorly struck on the obverse, have numerous deep abrasions and show inferior luster. A coin with good overall eye appeal is rare and worth a premium over a typical example.
INTERESTING VARIETIES: All 1862-S double eagles have a Medium S mintmark. Less than 10% show repunching on the 86 in the date. This variety is still not widely connected but it stands a good chance of being accepted by specialists due to its ease of recognition.
PROOFS: No proofs were struck.
HOARDS: A total of 114 were found on the S.S. Republic including at least 11 in Uncirculated. There were 68 in the S.S. Brother Jonathan, with most of these in the Extremely Fine-40 to About Uncirculated-58 range. There are still examples of this date being found in Europe and in other overseas sources, but the coins which are located are seldom finer than AU53 to AU55.
BUYING TIPS: The quality of strike on this issue tends to be poor so don’t be overly concerned about locating an example with a relatively sharp strike. It is more important to buy an example which is choice for the grade with natural color and choice surfaces.
AUCTION RECORD: The record price for this date is $57,500 which was set by Heritage 3/11: 4925. This coin was graded MS63 by NGC.
FINEST KNOWN: The finest 1862-S double eagle of which I am aware is a PCGS MS63 in the Crawford collection.
TOTAL KNOWN: 2000-2500+
Very Fine: 600-800
Extremely Fine: 6900-1100
About Uncirculated: 480-570
POPULATION FIGURES: As of the beginning of 2015, PCGS had graded 11 in MS61, six in MS62, and one in MS63 for a total of 18 in Uncirculated. NGC had graded two in MS60, 23 in MS61, seven in MS62, and five in MS63 for a total of 48 in Uncirculated. This includes 11 from the S.S. Republic and three from the S.S. Brother Jonathan. These figures are inflated by resubmissions, especially in MS61 and MS62. CAC has approved five Uncirculated examples, three in MS61, one in MS62, and one in MS63.
PERFORMANCE SINCE 2002: In the current market, a choice About Uncirculated example of this date (equivalent to AU55) is worth $4,000-5,000. In 2002, it was worth $2,000-3,000. These figures do not include the “Bro Jo” coins which sold in excess of $4,000 when they were auctioned in 1999. In the current market, an average quality Uncirculated example of this date (equivalent to MS61) is worth $19,000-22,000. In 2002, it was worth $8,000-10,000. This date seems to have underperformed the market in the last decade; likely as a result of the shipwrecked coins being priced at too high level when they hit the market in 1999-2000 and again in 2007-2008.
COMMENTS: As with the 1858-S and a small number of other Type One dates, the 1862-S is a date which “feels” like it should be more available in higher grades than it actually is. In believe that this is due to the fact that dates such as the 1863-S and 1865-S had their high-grade rarity profile greatly changed by shipwrecks. There were nearly 200 1862-S double eagles located in shipwrecks, but only a small number of these were significant from a condition standpoint, and any higher grade example is still rare and desirable.David Akers (1975/88): The 1862-S is one of the rarest dates from the San Francisco Mint. Overall, it is similar in rarity to the 1854-S, 1860-S, 1861-S, 1864-S, 1866-S Motto, 1867-S and 1868-S. The typically available 1862-S is both well worn and heavily bagmarked. VF and EF are the predominant grades and strictly graded AU's are quite rare. True mint state specimens are known but they are very rare. As for choice or gem quality examples of this date, I can only say that I have not seen any. In terms of rarity according to average grade, the 1862-S ranks in the top 10% of the entire Double Eagle series which further indicates how difficult this date is to find in nice condition.
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