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Elusive 1920-S Eagle, MS63

1920-S $10 MS63 NGC. The mintage for the 1920-S eagle is 126,500 pieces, only slightly less than that of its S-mint predecessor from four years before, the 1916-S. However, the 1916-S is fairly common until the Select Uncirculated grade is reached, while the 1920-S is a great rarity in all grades; even circulated pieces are quite rare and in demand.
The difference is due to distribution. Many 1916-S tens were shipped to foreign vaults, while the 1920-S eagles remained in Treasury vaults until Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1933 gold recall condemned them to the smelter. Nonetheless, a few 1920-S pieces escaped Treasury holdings; several of them were used in commerce due to the lingering hard money tradition in our nation's West. This both accounts for the circulated examples that are certified and explains why the average grade of certified survivors at NGC and PCGS combined is only AU58 or so.
The very rare Mint State examples were generally indifferently stored, since their numismatic significance would not be known for more than a generation. This lovely piece, however, has sweeping cartwheel luster and no individually relevant marks. The coloration is an attractive orange-gold, and the eye appeal is generous. The absence of a full strike on the obverse center is perhaps all that prevents a Choice designation.
There are currently some two dozen-plus Mint State examples certified at NGC, with PCGS adding another couple of dozen examples--as always, less duplications. Most of those coins are in the lower Mint State grades, however. NGC has certified only four coins in MS63 with eight finer, while PCGS has graded six MS63 examples, with nine finer (11/08).
See: Video Lot Description(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28H8, PCGS# 8881)

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Auction Dates
January, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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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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