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Description

Grand MS62 1920-S Indian Head Eagle
A Classic 20th Century Gold Rarity

1920-S $10 MS62 NGC. This is an issue that has long been acknowledged as one of the prime rarities of U.S. 20th century gold coinage. The 1920-S was the first issue made in the Indian Head eagle series in the four years since the 1916-S, and it would be the last in the series until the generous 1926 production. The 1920-S is a late-series key along with its sibling, the 1930-S. Although the mintage was a respectable 126,500 pieces, Garrett and Guth call the 1920-S third-rarest in the series, behind only the illustrious 1933 and the 1907 Rounded Rim, Periods. Remarkably, such a ranking places the 1920-S ahead of even the 1907 Wire Rim, with a mintage of only 500 coins but a high survival rate.
Akers' recent Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins 1907-1933 notes that even circulated examples in XF or AU are exceedingly rare, the preponderance of the issue most assuredly having been melted during the Gold Recall of 1933. According to Akers:

"The 1920-S is the rarest Indian Eagle in terms of total number of Mint State coins known. Most examples are fairly evenly spread throughout the MS-60 to MS-64 range."

The present MS62 example falls into the middle of that grade range, where NGC has certified six examples, with 12 pieces finer, less duplications. PCGS has graded eight coins in MS62, with 16 finer (9/09). Most specimens of the 1920-S show moderate strike softness, usually on the Indian's hair and the forepart of the eagle's right (facing) wing, right feathers, and talon. At first glance this coin appears considerably finer than the assigned grade, despite a few unbothersome ticks on Liberty's cheek and neck. It is probably more the typical strike softness as we describe here, rather than any other attribute that precludes an even finer grade. Even so, this coin manages to radiate that most ineffable quality, eye appeal, along with a considerable amount of numismatic grandeur.
From The Little Rock Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28H8, PCGS# 8881)

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Auction Dates
October, 2009
22nd-24th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 14
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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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