1870-CC Double Eagle, AU53
1870-CC $20 AU53 PCGS. Variety 1-A. This historic rarity had
a reported mintage of only 3,789 pieces, with attrition taking a
heavy toll on those struck over the years. In terms of absolute
rarity in the series of Liberty double eagles, the 1870-CC is
surpassed only by the 1861 Paquet Reverse, the 1856-O, and the
business strikes of 1882 and 1886. Doug Winter estimates that only
35-45 1870-CC twenties are known in all grades today.
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 8-10 AU coins
are believed known, and no Uncirculated pieces are even rumored to
exist. 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
Classic Western Rarity, Winter Plate Coin
Finest Certified at PCGS
It is difficult to overestimate the rarity of this issue. Carson City gold is an avidly 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. In Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint, this particular coin was tied for the number one spot on the Winter / Cutler Condition Census; however, since publication of that work in 2001 both an AU55 and an AU58 example have surfaced, and today this coin is the third 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. Population: 1 in 53, 0 finer (2/14).
Roster of High-Grade 1870-CC Double Eagles
1. AU58 NGC. The finest-known specimen, recently discovered and stolen during a Brinks transport soon afterward.
2. AU55 NGC. Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 3/2009), lot 3909, realized $414,000.
3. AU53 PCGS. Doug Winter; Nevada collection; Universal Coin and Bullion; Isaac Edmunds Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/2002), lot 2371; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 3129, realized $368,000; the present coin.
4. AU53 NGC. Denver Signature (Heritage, 8/2006), lot 5645, realized $359,375; Philadelphia ANA Sale (Stack's Bowers, 8/2012), lot 11039, realized $345,000.
5. AU53 NGC. Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2003), lot 8296; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 5/2010), lot 1712; Chicago ANA Sale (Stack's Bowers, 8/2011), lot 7762.
6. AU50 PCGS. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5541, realized $329,000.
7. AU50 PCGS. Classics Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2004), lot 546.
8. AU50 NGC. Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 7/2004), lot 2288.
9. AU50 Cleaned, Uncertified. Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 2/2008), lot 2749.
10. AU50 Details ANACS. New York Signature (Heritage, 2/2014), lot 5418, realized $164,500.
From the Collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 2542, PCGS# 8958)
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