Doug Winter: The 1860-O is fairly similar in overall and high grade rarity to the 1859-O. As with all the rarer New Orleans double eagles, it is an issue whose level of respect — and level of value — have risen considerably since .
The 1860-O is one of the half dozen rarest New Orleans double eagles. It is usually seen well worn, with the VF and EF coins being typical. It is very hard to find the lower AU grades and is very rare in the higher grade of this range. The 1860-O remains unknown in Uncirculated and it is just one of two double eagles from this mint (the 1854-O is the other) that are unlocated in Mint State.
STRIKE: This is not a well struck issue. All examples are weakly impressed on the hair of Liberty. There is a noticeable lack of detail on the curls around the face and below the ear. The hair at the top of the head is sharper and many high pieces have a strongly defined bow. The first four stars on the left obverse are quite weak while those at the right side are slightly sharper. The denticles are well defined. On the reverse, the horizontal stripes show weakness and the tail feathers are often weak as well. The wings tips are not well detailed but the rest of the feathers are sharp.
SURFACE: The majority of the 1860-O double eagles are excessively abraded with deep, detracting marks seen on the obverse and reverse. On some higher grade pieces, there may be little in the way of wear but the surfaces are abraded to the point that [grading services] will “net grade” the coin to a lower level. I have seen a few that had odd stains on the surfaces. An example of this was Heritage 2005 ANA:10404.
LUSTER: The luster is better than that found on the 1859-O. It is semi-prooflike or even fully prooflike. However, the luster is often interrupted by the aforementioned surface marks. There are a few known with blazing, deeply reflective luster and they are very impressive from a visual standpoint.
COLORATION: The coloration is somewhat lighter than on the previous few issues from this mint. High grade, uncleaned pieces sometimes show a very pleasing glowing yellow-gold coloration. It is difficult to locate an 1860-O double eagle that has not been cleaned or dipped, and examples that have pleasing original color are greatly prized by collectors.
EYE APPEAL: The 1860-O double eagle has below average eye appeal. The typical piece is not well struck and has heavily abraded surfaces. Many have been cleaned or dipped and this gives them a “washed out” appearance. There are few relatively appealing examples known and when they are offered for sale, they bring very strong prices.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: There are no significant die characteristics noted on the obverse or on the reverse.
MAJOR VARIETIES: A single variety is known:
Variety One: The date is low and it slants slightly downwards to the right. The 1 is slightly closer to the denticles than it is to the truncation. The A in STATES is patched. The mintmark is placed directly over the center of the N in TWENTY. It is very close to the feathers but it does not touch.
On later die states, two cracks can be seen. The first runs from the border through the E in UNITED to the eagle’s left wing. The second is light and it runs intermittently through the letters in STATES OF.David Akers (1975/88): All of the Double Eagles from the New Orleans Mint are scarce or rare, especially in high grade (AU or better), and the 1860-O is no exception; in fact, it is the third rarest of the 13 issues after the 1856-O and 1854-O. It is just slightly more rare than the 1855-O and 1859-O. The only specimen ever catalogued as uncirculated was the Atwater coin in 1946 (PCGS CoinFacts editor's note: After David Akers' book was written, the Eliasberg coin was catalogued and sold as uncirculated.) Not having seen that particular coin, I cannot state with certainly whether or not is was truly uncirculated. However, the famous Eliasberg Collection contains an unc and it may well be unique. I have also seen one AU-55 and a few others that graded AU-50. Still, VF and EF are the grades one is most likely to be able to find of this date and the 1860-O is so rare that it is not often available even in lower grades. According to rarity based on both average grade and frequency of appearance, the 1860-O ranks in the top 10% of the entire Double Eagle series. All of the specimens I have seen were partially or fully prooflike and the first four stars on the left obverse are always rather flat.
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