David Akers (1975/88): Along with the 1855-O, the 1859 is one of my "pet" dates of the first type of Liberty Head Double Eagle. The mintage is small but still does not begin to convey the true rarity of the date, particularly in high grade. In 443 auctions dating back over 60 years, only one 1859 was ever catalogued as "uncirculated," the Holmes specimen in 1960. I have not seen that particular coin and thus cannot say whether or not it was really uncirculated. I can say, however, that I have never personally seen an unc and have seen no more than a few that legitimately graded AU. The finest I know of was in Paramount's 1974 Greater New York (May) Sale. The typically available 1859 is well worn, usually VF with a partially prooflike or fully prooflike surface. Actually, in any grade the 1859 must be considered rare. Among all 204 Double Eagle issues, it is tied for 7th in rarity according to average grade and is just below the top 20 (25th) based on total number of appearances at auction.
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