1926-D Double Eagle, MS66+
1926-D $20 MS66+ PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Duckor/Morse. At one
time, the 1926-D was considered the second rarest Saint-Gaudens
double eagle except the 1933. The first auction appearance of any
1926-D twenty was in the January 1946 catalog of F.C.C. Boyd's
"World's Greatest Collection," where Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg
The Finest Known of the Issue
"This double eagle, the 1926 Denver mint coin, is one of the two rarest coins in the entire series, the other being the 1924-S. We consider the 1926-D to be more rare than the 1921 Philadelphia. Our conclusion is based on contacts with some of our finest cabinets."
The Boyd Collection was missing the 1924-S; the 1926-D sold for more than any other Saint-Gaudens double eagle in the entire collection, realizing $1,300. The Boyd specimen of the 1921 double eagle realized $825 and the 1927-D brought just $650. Both of those coins have recently broken the million-dollar level in our sales. That 1946 auction included 1,046 lots, exclusively gold, with only 11 lots, including the 1926-D double eagle, that brought a four-figure price, with the 1841 Little Princess quarter eagle realizing the top price of $6,000. The average sale price was less than $84 per lot.
B. Max Mehl offered a 1926-D in his 1949 sale of the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection, calling the date "the rarest of all Double Eagles of all Mints of all dates," and further commenting that the Green Sale specimen "is the first specimen ever to be offered at auction," overlooking (or ignoring) the earlier 1946 appearance. The Green specimen realized $2,500 in 1949, the second highest price in that sale behind a proof 1858 eagle that realized $4,250.
Few have survived from a mintage of only 481,000 coins. While some other issues are considered rarer today, the 1926-D is still one of the extremely important issues in the Saint-Gaudens series, and the Duckor specimen, the only one certified MS66 PCGS with the Plus designation, is the finest known specimen (10/11). The price of the 1926-D dropped in the 1950s as a few small hoards were found. However, unlike most other issues, there were only minuscule quantities of the 1926-D discovered in overseas bank holdings.
The combined PCGS-NGC census data shows that the two services have certified less than 300 examples of the issue in all grades, and the finest that NGC has certified is just MS64. The present specimen was consigned to Auction '89 after being off the market for more than 30 years. In that catalog, David Akers wrote that it was "in our opinion, the FINEST KNOWN," and that opinion remains unchanged over the last two decades. Akers continued to suggest that the coin would "bring a very high five figure bid," and it did, realizing $93,500 with the buyer's premium. More than two decades have passed since that sale, and today we expect that this specimen will bring a strong six-figure bid.
The Duckor MS66+ PCGS coin has marvelous cartwheel luster and exceptional orange- and greenish-gold surfaces with frosty mint brilliance. Exceptional aesthetic appeal is the result of the natural toning, amazing surfaces, and bold strike. Only a few tiny marks are almost entirely hidden in the design motifs, with a dark spot on the eagle's forewing and a few other spots to identify the provenance.
Ex: Auction '89 (David Akers, 7/1989), lot 1473; Dr. Steven L. Duckor; Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 6688.
David Akers Comments:
The two top examples of this extremely rare issue are the Norweb specimen and this one offered here in the Duckor Collection. They are the only superb uncirculated examples I have seen or heard of and, amazingly, I handled them both less than one year apart. In fact, I had both of them in my office at the same time and was able to compare them closely. I purchased the first one, now graded MS66 by PCGS, at the third part of the sale of the great Norweb Collection in 1988 as lot 4126 for $39,600, a price far less than I expected I would have to pay. The coin was conservatively graded MS63 in the sale, but my notation in the catalog indicated "MS65+, gem, possibly the best. Looks like a 1923-D!" While I still had the coin in my possession, shortly before I sold it to Dr. Thaine Price, I received the coin now offered here in the Duckor Collection as a consignment to Auction '89 where I cataloged it as follows: "Gem Uncirculated 65+, possibly even MS66. A splendid coin in every respect, slightly superior to the gem Norweb specimen... and finer than any other 1926-D known." This Duckor specimen is now the single highest graded specimen at MS66+. It was consigned to Auction '89 by a marvelous gentlemen from Lima, Ohio, who was known throughout the community as "Mr. Lima" for his many good works and charitable contributions to the area. He was also an incredibly quality conscious collector, far ahead of his time in that regard. He only wanted the very best and was also one of the few who was willing to pay for it. He assembled fabulous collections of Saint-Gaudens double eagles and eagles. He had a "perfect" 1907 MCMVII Extremely High Relief which I sold privately, the finest known 1924-S (now PCGS graded MS67, which I sold to Dr. Price), this 1926-D and a duplicate, also a gem which I sold privately, one of the now MS66 graded 1927-D's, superb gem Wire Edge and Rolled Edge 1907 eagles, a literally perfect MS68 1908-S eagle, and a gem 1933 eagle among many, many others. During the late 1940's, "Mr. Lima" paid $2,200 for the 1924-S and $2,000 for the 1927-D. However, he only paid $500 for this 1926-D indicating he probably purchased it in the early 1950's after the value of a 1926-D had dropped dramatically due to the initial discovery of some small hoards of the issue in Europe. However, it is virtually certain this specimen is not one from the hoards as those were invariably much lower quality and heavily bagmarked. The same can be said for the Norweb example. These two coins never left the United States and most likely they were obtained directly from the Denver Mint in the year of issue and carefully saved.
Prior to the discovery of the small hoards in Europe, the 1926-D was considered to be one of the three greatest rarities in the series, second only to the 1924-S and slightly more rare than the 1926-S. It was also thought to be more rare than the 1920-S, 1921, and 1927-D, the three most valuable regular issues of the series today. The discovery of the hoards in Europe changed all that in terms of population rarity but definitely not condition rarity. In gem and superb uncirculated condition the 1926-D is still considered one of the top five rarities in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series today.
From The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection.
Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.(Registry values: N1) (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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