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Description

1920-S Ten Dollar, MS65
Absolute and Condition Rarity
Among the Finest Known

1920-S $10 MS65 NGC. The 1920-S ten dollar gold is acknowledged as the third rarest date of the series, only trailing the 1933 and the 1907 Rolled Rim issues. Few examples survive in any condition despite a relatively generous mintage of 126,500 pieces. Many exist in circulated grades, indicating at least a portion of the mintage was released into general circulation. Since there is little evidence the date was heavily exported (no hoards of the date have been discovered in Europe or South America), it is likely the majority of the mintage was melted under terms of the 1933 Gold Recall Act.

In Select Mint State or finer, the 1920-S issue is a classic example of condition rarity. In fact, it is the premier condition rarity in the entire Indian Head eagle series, with fewer examples known and graded MS63 and higher than any other issue. A review of the most recent population data from PCGS and NGC shows that in grades of MS63 and higher, the condition rarity ranking of the top five issues in the series is: 1920-S; 1933; 1913-S; 1911-D; and 1907 Rolled Rim. In this ranking, the 1920-S is approximately 20% rarer than the next-rarest issue, the 1933. When considering the condition rarity ranking in grades of MS64 and higher, the order changes to: 1920-S; 1911-D and 1913-S (tie); 1933; and 1907 Rolled Rim. In this ranking, the 1920-S is significantly rarer than the next three, which are virtually equal, and more than five times rarer than the 1907 Rolled Rim. This analysis clearly shows why the appearance at auction of a high-grade 1920-S ten always generates excitement among prospective bidders.

In all, the combined totals for PCGS and NGC are six 1920-S examples certified in MS65, two pieces in MS66, and one Superb Gem in MS67+: the Duckor example, which sold for $1.725 million in our 2007 Charlotte National Money Show.

While the current coin is not the equal of that amazing specimen (the Duckor coin is by far the finest known), this MS65 piece is comparable to other high-ranking coins in the Condition Census, including the Kutasi coin, the Bartle Family Collection coin, the Thaine B. Price coin, and the Einstein Collection coin.

Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of this particular piece is its rich, abiding color and overall eye appeal. The surfaces display a pleasing, honey-gold patina with reddish-gold accents and a touch of lime-green at the margins. There are no singularly mentionable abrasions on the frosty surfaces -- rather, the most noticeable pedigree marker is a short, shallow contact mark at the curve of Liberty's chin. Bright, frosted mint luster is plentiful and radiant.

The coin is well-struck on the obverse except for Liberty's hair and the TY in LIBERTY. Based on a study of all auction appearances since the year 2000, at least two-thirds of all 1920-S eagles show weakness and underlying planchet roughness on the word LIBERTY and in the surrounding hair detail. The reverse of this coin is also generally well-struck, including better-than-average detail on the eagle's trailing leg feathers and talons. Weakness on the reverse is diagnostic of every example of this issue that we have seen, even when the strike elsewhere is above average.

At the present time, 105 pieces of the issue have been certified in all grades by PCGS and NGC combined (1/14), split almost evenly between circulated examples and Mint State ones. Most circulated examples are at the high end of the scale, AU55 to 58, while most of the Uncirculated ones are at the low end of the Mint State scale, MS60 to 63. Allowing for an unknown but presumably small number of examples that exist but have not been certified, as well as for duplication among those that have already been graded, a reasonable estimate of the total number of examples of this issue in existence would be in the range of 115-135 pieces at most, and that estimate actually may be high.
From The Fidelis Collection.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 28H8, PCGS# 8881)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
Feb-Mar, 2014
27th-2nd
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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Page Views: 1,539

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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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