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Gem 1922-S Double Eagle
Incredible Color, The Duckor Coin

1922-S $20 MS65 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Akers/Duckor. Six decades ago the 1922-S was one of the prime rarities of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, but the issue has surfaced in several hoards over the years, increasing the availability considerably for present-day collectors. Still, the 1922-S is a scarce issue in absolute terms; specimens in Gem condition remain formidable rarities. This coin is one of the finest examples, tied for the third spot in PCGS' CoinFacts Condition Census.
The auction history of the 1922-S is long. An example was featured at least as early as the New York Collection Part II (Morgenthau, 5/1939), lot 549, described as "1922 S Uncirculated and very scarce." The lot realized $69, about on par with the 1927-S at $67, the 1931 at $61, and the 1932 at $76. The status of the 1922-S as a series-rarity increased throughout the following decade, but a subtle change could be observed by 1949. B. Max Mehl, who always had a finger on the pulse of the numismatic market, reported in lot 878 of the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection catalog in April 1949:

"1922 S. Uncirculated with frosty mint surface. The coin, however, does show just the slightest touch of cabinet friction. I consider this coin as extremely rare. Probably not more than a dozen specimens known to exist. This specimen also comes from the Bell Sale in 1944 at $340.00. At that time this coin cataloged for only $100.00. Another specimen offered in the 'World's Greatest Collection' in 1946 brought $420.00. Since then a specimen sold for less, but I still think this coin is one of the rarest of all Branch Mint Double Eagles."

Despite Mehl's estimate of only 12 specimens known, his note about the falling price of a recent offering proved prophetic, as the lot only realized $275. The 1922-S began to appear in quantity in European banks in the following decades, and the date was well represented in a famous Central American hoard that surfaced in 1983. Today, the 1922-S can be found in lower Mint State grades with little difficulty; high-grade examples remain quite rare.
Consulting the current PCGS Population Report, we find that only 11 examples of the 1922-S have been certified in MS65, with just two MS66 pieces finer. The totals may contain a few resubmissions and crossovers. Probably no more than 18 to 25 coins survive in MS65 or finer grades.
The present coin is a delightful Gem with remarkable visual appeal. The reverse exhibits the curious inner rim caused by die buckling often seen on specimens of this date. There are a few obverse copper spots that are almost expected with this issue. The design elements are well-detailed, displaying just a touch of softness on the Capitol dome. The incredible color overshadows all other aesthetic considerations. Lemon-yellow, copper-gold, and greenish-gold combine to amazing effect on this example; a couple of small areas verge on purple. Rich, rolling cartwheel luster adds to the amazing eye appeal. A few scattered abrasions are more minor and widespread than the grade might imply. A comparable specimen of this historic issue may not be offered for some time, and the discerning collector should bid accordingly.
Ex: David Akers; Duckor Collection / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 4632, which brought $46,000.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26G4, PCGS# 9174)

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Auction Dates
August, 2012
2nd-5th Thursday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 808

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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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