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1920 $20 MS65 PCGS Secure....

2012 January 4-8 US Coins & Platinum Night FUN Signature Auction- Orlando #1166

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Auction Ended On: Jan 5, 2012
Item Activity: 6 Internet/mail/phone bidders Number of Bidders
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Location: Orange County Convention Center
North/South Building
9899 Universal Blvd.
Hall SB - South Building
Orlando, FL 32819

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Gem 1920 Twenty Dollar, Single Finest at PCGS
An Underrated, Condition-Dependent Gold Rarity
Ex: Eliasberg Collection
1920 $20 MS65 PCGS Secure. Ex: Eliasberg/Duckor. The 1920 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is the first issue in the series produced since the singleton 1916-S, after which the series would go on hiatus. The 1920 issue accordingly serves as a natural dividing line in the series, ushering in the decade of the Roaring Twenties. The mintage of the 1920 Philadelphia twenties was a rather low 228,250 circulation strikes, and the last matte or sandblast proofs of the series had been struck five years earlier, in 1915.
The 1929 and 1930-S issues offer a similar line of demarcation, one particularly stark within the series, as the 1928 is extremely common, the 1929 is extremely scarce (yet still a key date, but more are known today than in decades past), and the 1930-S is among the rarest of the late-series issues through the 1932.
Although the 1920 Philadelphia issue is the introductory date in a new decade, it must not be confused with the later common entries in the series, such as the 1922 and most especially the 1924 and 1928 Philadelphia pieces, which are by far the most prevalent P-mints of the decade in the highest Mint State grades such as MS66 and MS67, and even the occasional MS68. (The legendary Wells Fargo Hoard accounts for the enormous number, well into the many thousands, of 1908 No Motto Saints in MS66, MS67, and higher.)
In point of fact, the 1920 is a much scarcer coin that its P-mint siblings from later in the 1920s. Research by Roger Burdette has shown that, despite the 1920 date, the 1920 Philadelphia double eagles were not released until March 20, 1926 -- a fascinating tidbit given that the Mint had made no double eagles previously since the 1916-S issue. PCGS has certified many thousands of examples of the 1924 and 1928 issues in MS66, and several dozen each in MS67, in marked contrast to the 1920.
In cataloging the Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection (5/1998), David Akers wrote of lot 99, a Choice Uncirculated 1920:

"This is one of the most intensely condition dependent issues of the series, very common in Choice Uncirculated or lower grade, but rather rare at the Very Choice Uncirculated level, and all but unobtainable in Gem condition with no more than a few such specimens in existence. As such, a strong case could be made that the 1920 Double Eagle is one of the most, perhaps even the most, underrated condition rarities of the four U.S. Twentieth Century gold series."

The situation today, 13 years after the Thaine Price auction, is little different. Despite the low mintage, the 1920 Saints are available in the lower Mint State grades through MS64, before suddenly becoming quite rare at the Gem level of the present piece. The present MS65 PCGS piece is another "pop 1/0" in the Duckor Collection, the sole finest certified with none graded higher at PCGS (9/11).
Greenish-gold and orange-gold compete for space on each side of this fantastically beautiful Saint-Gaudens, pedigreed to the Eliasberg Collection. The strike is close to full despite minor weakness on the sandal and the rock just below, one of the more strike-challenged areas of Saint-Gaudens' brilliant design. A few linear marks on Liberty's left (facing) leg and the sun's rays nearby are in keeping with the Gem grade but scarcely dampen the incredible appeal. The reverse shows similar coloration and equal eye appeal.
Ex: Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 1050; David Hall.

David Akers Comments:
The 1920 is the ultimate standard by which we judge a coin to be a "condition rarity," at least among the issues of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. As a date, the 1920 is not even remotely close to being rare. Thousands exist, nearly all of them in AU or uncirculated condition. Even choice and very choice uncirculated examples exist in rather large quantities and can easily be obtained at almost any time. Above the MS64 grade level, however, there is virtually nothing, perhaps only this single specimen. At least it is the one and only 1920 Saint ever graded MS65 by PCGS and although NGC has graded a couple of others in gem as well, many numismatists have long felt that this coin here in the Duckor collection is the only 1920 Saint that a consensus of experts in the series, including myself, would agree is a real gem. Nothing has been graded higher or ever been rumored to exist. The 1920 is perhaps the most underrated of all Saint-Gaudens double eagles in gem condition.
From The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection.
Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26FY, PCGS# 9170)

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The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers

The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins. Each date and mintmark is reviewed with up-to-date information, much of which has never been previously published. The book is based on two extraordinary collections: The Phillip H. Morse collection and the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor collection.

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