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1870-CC $20 XF40 NGC. There are few gold coins in the U.S. series that turn heads quicker than an 1870-CC double eagle. It ...

2005 September Long Beach Signature Auction #384

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Auction Ended On: Sep 23, 2005
Item Activity: 10 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Long Beach, CA
Extremely Rare 1870-CC Double Eagle, XF40 NGC
1870-CC $20 XF40 NGC. There are few gold coins in the U.S. series that turn heads quicker than an 1870-CC double eagle. It is an instantly recognizable rarity that transcends the double eagle series. The 1870-CC twenty is instantly recognizable by all 19th century collectors, just as the 1877 Indian cent is recognized by non-Indian cent collectors, and the 1876-CC twenty cent piece is widely known outside the few collectors who attempt to complete that short series.
Part of the mystique of the 1870-CC is historic, and part is numismatic. The historic part of the story begins when the state of Nevada was still a part of the Utah Territory, and known as Carson County. The first settlers arrived in Eagle Valley in 1851, establishing a trading post for the great 'gold' migrations to California. Most of the settlers returned to Salt Lake City with the ebbing of the California Gold Rush, and an empty Eagle Valley was ultimately purchased for $500 and some horses by New Yorker Abraham Curry and friends. Curry founded Carson City (named after the trailblazer Kit Carson) in 1858, but his wildest dreams of building a city could never have envisioned the growth that would follow the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode. The Comstock was probably the richest deposit of silver ore ever found.
At first, the silver ore (and smaller quantities of gold) was shipped over the Sierra Nevada Range to the San Francisco Mint, at great expense. Mine operators lobbied Congress for a branch mint in Nevada itself, after being rejected by Mint Director James Pollock. The Nevada Mint Bill was passed by both the House and the Senate on March 3, 1863, but didn't stipulate a location for the new mint. Colorado Congressman H. P. Bennett, authorized to find a suitable location, was successfully lobbied by Abe Curry to select the Territorial capital Carson City, centrally located to all of the mines. A lot was purchased in February of 1865, and a commission (including Curry) was appointed to oversee the building project. Due to continuing opposition by the Treasury Department, it was July 1866 before plans and authorizing documents arrived in Carson City. The cornerstone was laid September 24, 1866. Curry was named as the contractor, but it became evident that the $150,000 appropriated was insufficient due to the costs of transporting materials to Carson City. Curry spent much of 1868 in Washington and Philadelphia trying to procure additional funds.
Machinery for the Carson City Mint--exceedingly heavy coin presses, blanking presses, and rolling mills--were shipped by sea around the Horn, most of it arriving in late 1868. Curry became the first Superintendent of the Carson City Mint, and began testing his equipment during 1869, but waited impatiently for the arrival of dies from Philadelphia. Tests of the machinery were conducted at various times during 1869, but the dies didn't arrive from Philadelphia until January 10, 1870.
The numismatic part of the story actually begins with the production of the first coins in the new Carson City mint, Liberty Seated silver dollars, on February 11, 1870, followed shortly thereafter by gold eagles. The first double eagles were struck on March 10. Curry resigned as Superintendent in September to run for lieutenant governor. Production during the early years of the Carson City Mint were lower than anticipated, because many mine owners still preferred to use the San Francisco Mint or to keep their output in ingot form. Production from the Nevada mines fell during the early 1890s, and on June 1, 1893, Mint Director Preston ceased coining operations. The facility served occasionally as an Assay Office, and in 1941 it became the home of the Nevada State Museum.
Only 3,789 double eagles were struck in 1870 and attrition appears to have taken a very high toll on this issue. Rather than being exported to Europe, as many other Carson City gold coins were, it appears that the entire mintage of the 1870-CC was dropped into circulation in and around Nevada and the American West. As a result, most show heavy abrasions and even heavier wear. Today it is estimated that only 35-45 pieces exist in all grades. In addition to being an absolute rarity, the 1870-CC is also a major condition rarity. Eliasberg had an XF40, and the incredible, specialized gold collection formed by Harry Bass contained an XF45 example. Any 1870-CC twenty that grades XF40 or better qualifies as a Condition Census example. This particular coin is softly struck, as always, but the surfaces show minimal abrasions for the issue. The green-gold coloration shows a significant outline of deep reddish patina. An important opportunity for the collector to acquire the scarcest Carson City gold coin.(#8958) (Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26A8, PCGS# 8958)

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