Spectacular Gem 1926-D Twenty, Third Finest Known1926-D $20 MS65 PCGS. This is a simply spectacular coin both from technical and aesthetic points of view.
Despite an initial mintage of 481,000 examples, the vast majority of the entire mintage was destroyed during the great gold melts of the 1930s. Bowers calls the issue an "erstwhile former rarity, very rare today" and says succinctly in his Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins, "Today the 1926-D is one of the key issues of the Saint-Gaudens series, with only a few hundred known to exist. Typical grades are MS-60 to MS-63. Gems are rare. Today the 1926-D double remains very elusive, though hardly in the 'impossible' category. Most were probably retained in the United States and melted in the mid-1930s."
Bowers notes further that specimens usually show some areas of lightness, such as the Capitol dome, and that many different die states result from the many die pairs used to produce the coinage.
In The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Collection of Phillip H. Morse, the authors note that "from the scant number of survivors today, it appears that most of these were retained in the United States and subsequently melted ... . Apparently none were sent overseas, as no hoards or significant accumulations have been discovered in the past 50 years. It is interesting to note that along with the 1924-S, the 1926-D used to be considered one of the two rarest Saint-Gaudens double eagles. In the 1940s, both of these dates were considered even rarer than the 1927-D, an issue now considered the classic rarity of the collection."
Unlike many issues in the series that are former rarities now dethroned, the 1926-D remains a key issue today. The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens authors write, "With respect to overall rarity, the 1926-D is virtually identical to the 1925-S, except it is most often found in Uncirculated grades, while the 1925-S is usually found circulated. [The 1926-D] is one of the scarcest and most underrated issues in the series, and when available, it is usually seen in MS60-MS63 at best. Current population figures bear this out with about 250 examples (High R.3) certified in MS63 or lesser grades, while MS64 and finer pieces number just a couple of dozen (Low R.6).
"The Phillip Morse Collection contained only one piece, that being an exceedingly rare PCGS MS66. ... According to Akers (1988), he had never seen ANY collection of Saint-Gaudens twenties that contained Gem examples of the 1924-S, 1925-S, and 1926-D. These three dates are considered the condition standards of the set ... ."
As we said earlier, this is a simply spectacular coin, a no-questions Gem, and one that would certainly go a long way toward setting the "condition standard" for a similar set in the future. For a gold coin the toning is remarkably bold and persuasive, with central areas of sunset-orange on each side melding into sage, violet, and mint-green toward the peripheries. (Such unusual toning on a gold coin can occur when there is an unusually high proportion of copper alloy near the surface of the coin, which is much more reactive than the gold.) The strike is bold, aside from the aforementioned area of the Capitol dome and Liberty's right (facing) foot. Exuberant cartwheel luster emanates powerfully from both sides, unimpeded by the lovely color. There are remarkably few abrasions noted, save for a single pedigree identifier beneath Liberty's hair in the left obverse field and a patch of small, thin scrapes on her torso. PCGS Population: 5 in 65, 2 finer (12/07). None finer than MS64 at NGC.
From The Jacob Collection of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GE, PCGS# 9184)
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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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