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Description

1891 Double Eagle, MS62
Shimmering Reflective Fields, Only 1,390 Struck

1891 $20 MS62 NGC. CAC. In the waning years of the 1880s, it finally appeared that the decade-long dearth of Philadelphia Mint double eagle mintages would finally come to an end. After striking some memorably low totals for circulation in some years, most notably the 1882 at 571 pieces, and striking only proofs in 1883, 1884, and 1887, the Mint finally began to produce respectable quotas once again. The 1888 mintage exceeded a quarter-million coins, the 1889 more than 44,000, and the 1890 total was nearly 76,000 pieces.
Then the 1891 mintage slipped far backwards, a meager 1,390 double eagles for circulation.
The reasons for this appear to have been a division of labor between the mints, during a time when foreign demand for American gold threatened to deplete the nation's gold reserves below acceptable levels. As the "Free Silver" movement in America gained strength, Europeans became increasingly fearful that the nation would attempt to pay its debts in silver rather than gold. The crisis would peak only years later, in 1895, when J.P. Morgan and Augustus Belmont, noted financiers-investors of the day, offered to replenish the Treasury's gold coin supplies, a crisis that passed unnoticed by the public.
San Francisco in 1891 was accordingly tasked with producing double eagles, while Carson City was given priority for half eagles and eagles. The Philadelphia Mint's chief responsibilities were the striking of millions of Morgan dollars, mandated by the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, along with producing a glut of millions of minor coins.
The present 1891 double eagle is certified MS62 by NGC, displaying shimmering prooflike fields on each side with a slight cartwheel effect intermixed. Abrasions are minor for the grade, although a semicircular dig on the cheek of Liberty and a cluster of marks behind the hair bun require mention. The strike is sharp while falling short of full. The prevailing yellow-orange patina has a slight hint of reddish tone. Census: 1 in 62, 1 finer (9/12).
From The Gnome at the Shore Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 254S, PCGS# 9016)

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Auction Dates
October, 2012
18th-21st
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 12
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