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Rare 1870-CC Liberty Double Eagle, XF45
1870-CC $20 XF45 PCGS. There are only 40 to 50 known 1870-CC
double eagles that survive from an original mintage of just 3,789
coins. It ranks high among the list of known double eagle rarities,
a list that includes business strikes of the 1854-O, 1856-O, 1881,
1882, and others. Market appearances of the 1870-CC twenty are also
rare, and any appearance must be considered a major opportunity for
the advanced collector of Liberty double eagles or Carson City gold
coins. We have only offered 15 examples at auction since the
beginning of our Permanent Auction Archives in 1993. Only three of
those appearances are graded higher than the present piece. It is
the first double eagle struck at Carson City in the opening year of
that branch mint. However, contemporary coin collectors were rare
in that region, so few were saved from circulation.
The present specimen that PCGS grades XF45 is actually a new piece to the numismatic community, coming from the Rheinland-Pfalz area of Western Germany. The grandfather of the gentleman that brought the coin to Heritage was in the U.S. in the early 20th century, and he wanted to bring a few double eagles back to his family in Germany. Most of the coins he acquired were Saint-Gaudens pieces, but he also wanted one coin from the "old west," and acquired this 1870-CC twenty. The coin remained hidden in an old piece of furniture for nearly 100 years until his grandson retrieved the coin just a few years ago. The younger man had little knowledge of coins, and failed to understand the significance of this piece until he contacted the Heritage European representatives.
The mystique of the 1870-CC twenty is a combination of both historic and numismatic influences. This piece represents the early history of the Carson City area, from its first settlers in 1851 until the Mint was opened in 1870. The new facility was a direct result of the Comstock Lode and the silver interests in Nevada, although many gold coins were also produced over the next quarter century. This piece also represents the charm of the old West, today as it did a century ago for a visitor from Germany.
The numismatic importance is a combination of its overall rarity, and its condition rarity. With only 40 to 50 coins known, the date is easily one of the rarest double eagles with only a few contenders. The low mintage and immediate circulation of all those coins explains its condition rarity. Nearly all examples are in the VF to XF grade range, typically with heavily abraded surfaces. The finest certified examples include an NGC AU55, a single AU53 PCGS coin, two AU53 NGC coins, four AU50 PCGS examples, and three AU50 NGC pieces. The present XF45 specimen is tied for the 12th best certified at NGC and PCGS, combined.
This specimen exhibits the usual light abrasions always associated with the 1870-CC double eagle, although they are less severe than those on many of the known examples. Typical of 1870-CC twenties is the peripheral weakness seen among the stars on the obverse, and the legend on the reverse. The surfaces are light yellow with traces of luster still visible in the protected areas. Traces of green and orange accents add to its overall appeal. This is a remarkable and extremely important specimen.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 2542, PCGS# 8958)
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