Fabulous MS66 1932 Eagle1932 $10 MS66 PCGS. Ex: Duckor. Though many older references made little, if any comment on the apparent illogic of producing millions of gold coins in the harsh early years of the Great Depression, later authors have had few qualms about doing so. Garrett and Guth and their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins exemplify the trend: "One can only wonder why such a large number of eagles were coined at the absolute depth of the Depression, but for whatever reason, they were." The decision to strike those pieces makes some sense in light of the then-current presidential administration, though when the production is placed against a backdrop of millions of eagles and double eagles sitting in vaults in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, it is still inexplicable to a certain degree.
President Herbert Hoover did not turn a blind eye to the Great Depression, contrary to the impression that history books may impart, though his strategies for pulling the United States out of the Great Depression ultimately failed. Hoover and his Cabinet anticipated an eventual recovery, and even after the disruption of international trade by the struggles of different nations to revive their economies at the expense of others', production of gold coinage continued in anticipation. (The suspension of production for the quarter eagle and half eagle, two denominations used more in domestic commerce than international trade, reinforces this idea.)
Conditions continued to worsen, however, and with the defeat of the incumbent Hoover in the presidential election of 1932, the United States made a break with his administration's policies. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's role in the suspension of gold coinage (the eagles and double eagles of 1933 were struck prior to Roosevelt's inauguration) and the effects of his gold-recall executive order are well-established in numismatic lore.
Though millions of the 1932 eagles were melted, enough pieces survived out of the nearly 4.5 million coins struck that the 1932 is one of the most common Saint-Gaudens tens and one of two iconic type issues for the series. It is not until the Premium Gem level that the issue becomes conditionally scarce, and anything finer is a rarity. This gorgeous MS66 piece is among the most beautiful coins imaginable, powerfully lustrous with hints of twinkling frost on the uppermost parts of the sharply struck design. Generally yellow-gold surfaces show occasional milky patina from possible long-term storage, particularly at the left side of Liberty's headband. Each side is virtually mark-free with only a handful of trivial grazes. Magnificent eye appeal.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles.(Registry values: N2998) (NGC ID# 28HB, PCGS# 8884)
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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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