With only a single example of the 1849 Double Eagle known to exist and that coin not available to the public market, a discussion of the finest known and values seems unnecessary at first glance. However, the coin does deserve a discussion of its condition and possible value.
Neither of the major grading companies have ever had a chance to grade the unique 1849 Liberty Double Eagle, although the coin is usually encapsulated in a holder which NGC specifically made for the Smithsonian Institution. PCGS has mentioned that they graded the coin to be around PR-63 or PR-64, based on grading it through glass when it was part of a traveling exhibit. Interestingly enough, it is obvious from both pictures as well as in public viewing that the coin has been harshly cleaned, a practice which was common at museums (including the Smithsonian Institution) in earlier times. For a coin such as this, however, the grade holds less importance since there are no other examples known to exist.
The approximate value of the 1849 Double Eagle difficult to assess. Besides the aforementioned estimated value of fifteen million dollars, other estimates have ranged from ten to twenty million dollars, if the coin were to ever be sold publicly, which is virtually impossible.
There is one value from more than a century ago that is interesting to note. While the Mint has received numerous offers for the coin, one has been highlighted in many descriptions of the 1849 Liberty Double Eagle. In 1904 $35,000 was offered to the Mint who still had the coin in its possession at the time, it was only later transferred together with the other items from the Mint’s collection to the Smithsonian Institution. At the time of the offer, this represented an immense amount. Other important coins, including 1804 silver dollars, rarely sold for more than $1,000 at that time. Taking those relative values into account and translating it into modern day dollars, the offer might have been the equivalent of as much as fifty or even seventy million dollars. That probably says enough about this heralded golden rarity.