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1870-CC Twenty Dollar, XF45
Rarest Carson City Double Eagle Issue
Unknown in Mint State

1870-CC $20 XF45 PCGS. The 1870-CC double eagle, the first Liberty Head twenty dollar issue struck at the newly opened mint in Carson City, Nevada, is the most iconic and representative coinage of that fabled western mint. Not only is the twenty dollar denomination the largest ever struck at the short-lived Carson City facility (which minted coins only from 1870 through 1885 and 1889 through 1893), but the low production of the 1870-CC double eagle, at 3,789 pieces, makes it the key issue of the series that would follow.

Nevada's immense Comstock Lode was discovered in 1859, and much of the latter half of the 19th century was consumed with debate concerning the free coinage of silver and bimetallism on the one hand, versus a gold standard on the other. Although the Comstock Lode is thought of as largely a huge silver bonanza, gold was also found in abundant supply in the many mines that constituted the Comstock. During its peak production years of 1876 through 1878, approximately $36 million worth of silver annually was extracted from the rich Nevada mines. Virginia City, Nevada, sprang up a short distance away, and by the mid-1860s it was an opulent destination for travelers, the most important settlement in the West between Denver and San Francisco.

But while silver comprised 57% of the lode's output, another 42% was gold.

Particularly after the so-called "Crime of '73" legislated the two cent copper, three cent silver, and silver half dime out of existence while introducing the overweight Trade dollar and omitting the standard silver dollar from the list of authorized coinage denominations, debate raged about the proper status of silver in the American economy.

There was no debate, however, about the free coinage of gold. Gold was not only the bedrock of the American economy, it was the foundation of global commerce between nations.
Superintendent Abraham Curry opened the fledgling Carson City Mint on January 8, 1870. During its first year, the facility struck gold coinage in three denominations, along with silver dollar and two minor silver issues. Today, for the 1870-CC double eagles, their survival is estimated at no more than 35 to 45 pieces in all grades -- about 1% of the original mintage. Compare this with the current combined certified populations at NGC and PCGS -- 64 grading events, certainly not all different coins.

Heritage is fortunate to be able to offer the present Choice XF PCGS-graded example of the 1870-CC in this lot, as well as an AU50 PCGS example elsewhere in this prestigious Platinum Night session. PCGS shows 14 submissions in XF45, with four in AU50 and one in AU53 (11/13). (No examples of the 1870-CC are known in Mint State.) Plenty of eye appeal on each side is the hallmark of this piece, largely orange-gold with scattered lilac accents and lemon-yellow outlines around the devices. Grade-consistent field chatter intermingles with some of the expected marks, the most mentionable a diagonal scrape in the obverse field from around star 1 to star 3. Some other small marks appear in the fields and on Liberty's cheek -- an expected occurrence for the issue, but none are overly distracting. A small dig on the reverse appears under the N of UNITED.

This 1870-CC double eagle will form not only a keystone in any advanced collection, but numismatists will also appreciate its status as one of the most important and historic coinage issues of 19th century America.
From The Douglas Martin Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 2542, PCGS# 8958)

View all of [The Douglas Martin Collection ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2014
8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,283

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