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1920-S Twenty Dollar, MS60
Earliest of the Many Melt Rarities of the 1920s

1920-S $20 MS60 NGC. The 1920-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle is an underrated rarity in the series, much prized by knowledgeable specialists. The issue is especially elusive in Uncirculated condition. Among collectible business-strike issues of the series, only the famous 1927-D and the 1921 command higher prices at auction, and the 1920-S is actually rarer than the 1927-D in grades above the Gem level. Historically, the 1920-S has been somewhat overshadowed by its slightly rarer 1921 counterpart, but present-day collectors know the two issues have much in common and their availability in all grades varies by the slightest of margins.

Coinage of double eagles was suspended after 1916, with no twenty dollar coins produced during the following three years. A nominal mintage of 558,000 double eagles was struck at the San Francisco Mint in 1920, but only a small number of coins were released into circulation. The great majority of the mintage was held in banks and Treasury vaults to act as currency reserves until the 1930s, when the Gold Recall of 1933 required the surrender of most domestic gold holdings to the government. Nearly all 1920-S double eagles were subsequently melted and stored as gold bars in the Fort Knox Bullion repository. The 1920-S is the earliest date of the series to owe its rarity to the melts of the 1930s, but many later dates suffered the same fate.

Only 65-75 examples of the 1920-S are extant in all Mint State grades, with most examples seen grading no better than MS63. The typical specimen exhibits good color and luster, but the strike is often soft on the lower-left obverse, and most examples show a large number of handling marks or abrasions. Like the 1921, a significant portion of the surviving population is in circulated grades.

This piece displays uniform, bright yellow-gold color and the mint luster is interrupted by a few expected small abrasions and a couple of longer, shallow marks in the upper-left obverse field. Well, but not fully struck in all areas. Census: 3 in 60, 53 finer (2/14).
From the Collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26FZ, PCGS# 9171)

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Auction Dates
March, 2014
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers

The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins. Each date and mintmark is reviewed with up-to-date information, much of which has never been previously published. The book is based on two extraordinary collections: The Phillip H. Morse collection and the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor collection.

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