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Second Finest Known 1870-CC Double Eagle, Ex: Nevada Collection and the Plate Coin in the Winter / Cutler Reference

1870-CC $20 AU53 PCGS. This historic rarity had an original mintage of only 3,789 pieces, with attrition taking a heavy toll on those struck. In terms of absolute rarity in the series of double eagles, the 1870-CC is surpassed only by the 1861 Paquet, the 1856-O, and the business strikes of 1882 and 1886. Doug Winter estimates that today only 35-45 1870-CC twenties are known in all grades. Three-quarters of the known survivors are no better than Fine-VF and are heavily bagmarked, making this the rarest date in the series from the standpoint of condition rarity. Only 3-4 AU coins are believed known, and no Uncirculated pieces are even rumored to exist. In our recent September Long Beach Sale, we offered a hitherto unknown AU50 coin that realized a very impressive $172,500. It is instructive to note that two of the most illustrious collections of gold coins to be sold in the 20th century, Louis Eliasberg and Harry Bass, had XF40 and XF45 coins in their respective collections. This was certainly not because they couldn't afford finer examples, as both had very deep pockets, but it is simply because high grade pieces such as this one were not available.
It is difficult to overestimate the rarity of this issue. Carson City gold is a highly collected area of U.S. numismatics, but few serious collectors are able to own an 1870-CC in any grade. The coins that are known are owned by advanced collectors and it is often several years before a desirable example (XF or better) comes on the market. This particular coin is listed as the #1 coin on the Winter / Cutler Condition Census; however, since publication of that work in 2001 an AU55 piece has surfaced, and today this coin is the second finest known.
All 1870-CC double eagles are known to be softly struck. This piece is also weakly defined overall, but not any more so than other Type Two twenties, issues such as the 1869-S and 1870-S come to mind as coins that are almost never found with anything more than a mediocre strike. The surfaces have rich orange-gold coloration with faint traces of reflectivity still in evidence around the devices. As with all '70-CC twenties we have seen, this piece is liberally abraded. However, it lacks the numerous heavy marks that are often seen. In fact, the distinctive abrasions that are present can be listed and used as pedigree identifiers, which can also be seen in the plate used in the Winter / Cutler reference (page 147): an angling mark is located in the left obverse field out from Liberty's chin, a series of abrasions are clustered between and around stars 12 and 13, and on the reverse there is a long cut on the lower rim just below the NT in TWENTY. This is a very rare chance to acquire this highly-prized, key Carson City issue in upper Condition Census quality--an opportunity that may not present itself again for many years when this piece is locked away in a major collection of Carson City gold.
Ex: Private collection via Universal Coin and Bullion, 1999; Doug Winter; Nevada Collection.(#8958) (Registry values: P10, N125000) (NGC ID# 2542, PCGS# 8958)

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Auction Dates
January, 2004
7th-10th Wednesday-Saturday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 2,865

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