Civil War Gold: Surging interest in the 1861-P $20 Gold Double Eagle
Will surging gold prices and the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War in 2011 bring higher values to the 1861 Philadelphia $20 gold double eagle?
Recently, there seems to be a large increase in collector and/or investor interest in the 1861-P $20 double eagle.
How do I know?
It's really quite simple . . . from the traffic to my blogs and website.
One of the really cool aspects of having a coin collecting blog or website is that there are analytical tools available that let you drill down into how people find you on the internet. That data includes the keywords someone types into a Google search.
For years, the number one coin being searched for in Google that brought someone to my blog was the 1857-S gold $20 double eagle from the SS Central America shipwreck. No other coin even came close.
Over the years, there were very few searches for the 1861-P double eagle. When one did occur, it was always for one of the two existing examples with a Paquet reverse (two coins out of all but the wealthiest of collectors).
In September 2010 everything changed! Since then the 1861 double eagle has surpassed the 1857-S as the most searched for coin bringing traffic to my blogs and website. In fact, the 1861 is now the number one searched coin for all of 2010, and almost all of those searches have been since September. Digging deeper into the data I can also see that these people are pretty much evenly distributed throughout the country.
My initial reaction was that this was due to the recent surge in the price of gold. With gold going over $1,400 an ounce, VF and XF examples of the coin are now worth more for their gold content than they are for any numismatic value.
However, a recent article by gold coin expert Doug Winter makes the case that the recent interest could be due to coin promoters preparing to launch marketing campaigns based on 2011 being the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Being the largest gold coin type and with a mintage of almost 3 million, the 1861 Philadelphia double eagle is the poster child for any Civil War gold promotions. Lending credence to the Civil War theory, I have also seen an increase in the searches on 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 Philadelphia double eagles, but not nearly at the scale of the 1861.
But whatever the reasons, there is definitely a sudden interest in the coin. It remains to be seen whether this begins to show up as any gains in numismatic value. However, if you currently own an 1861-P double eagle, you may want to hang on to it.