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Description

1859-S Twenty Dollar, MS63
The Sole Finest Certified

1859-S $20 MS63 PCGS. The present 1859-S double eagle from the Galt's Gulch Collection is certified MS63 by PCGS, making it the sole finest at that service. NGC has never certified an example at that level. In fact, between PCGS and NGC combined, there are less than two dozen submissions in MS62, a grade point lower than this specimen.
Between 1848 and 1849, the massive influx of Forty-Niners made San Francisco grow from 1,000 to 25,000 inhabitants in one year; within a decade, the population would double yet again. Nonetheless, the year 1859 marked an inflection point for San Francisco, the California Territory, and for the nation as a whole. The rich gold- and silver-laden Comstock Lode would be discovered in the hills near Carson City, Nevada, in 1859. The Carson City Mint would open in 1870, but it never assumed more than the role of a niche player compared with San Francisco, which had superior government and private facilities for refining and assaying gold and silver alloy; ready access to local markets for pure silver and gold bars; and access via shipping lanes to the markets in the Orient for precious metals.
And in the mintage of double eagles in particular, San Francisco had unparalleled capacity and prodigious outputs that lasted throughout the 19th century. The San Francisco Mint would strike 636,445 double eagles in 1859, still a healthy number even though the yearly total had decreased every year since the 1.2 million examples of 1856 -- likely the lingering effects of the financial Panic of 1857. The 1859-S twenty is an issue that shares much in common with the 1858-S in MS63 from this collection that precedes it. Despite its ample mintage, most examples circulated widely in the rough-and-tumble Old West, and the average certified survivor of both issues is Choice XF to AU at best. Unlike the 1856-S and 1857-S twenties, which were available in Mint State in generous supply because of the S.S. Central America recovery, the next shipwrecks in 1865 of the S.S. Brother Jonathan and S.S. Republic meant that most examples recovered there were circulated, as well. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth comment in their Gold Encyclopedia:

"There were 67 examples found on the S.S. Republic, but most were About Uncirculated, and only one attained a Mint State designation. Like most of the coins of this era, the 1859-S double eagle is very rare in Mint State, and just one or two are known at the choice level."


This Select Mint State 1859-S twenty is well-struck and shows generous, unbroken luster over each side, with a few minor ticks that determine the grade, none worthy of singular mention. A thin vertical stripe of darker brownish toning) runs from Liberty's ear to the lower curls. As the single finest certified example of the issue, this piece poses a marvelous opportunity for enthusiasts of the Liberty Head double eagle series. Even within this Platinum Night session loaded with conditionally rare double eagles in both the Liberty Head and Saint-Gaudens series, this is a standout coin.
Ex: Bowers and Merena (3/2004), lot 3198; Bowers and Merena (10/2004), $67,500.
From The Galt's Gulch Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 269C, PCGS# 8928)

View all of [The Galt's Gulch Collection ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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