1926-S Twenty, MS66+
1926-S $20 MS66+ PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex:
Boyd/Green/Carter/Duckor. The 1926-S was once considered the
third-rarest date of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. When
legendary Fort Worth coin dealer B. Max Mehl cataloged this
specimen as lot 881 of the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection in April
1949, he recapped the then-current knowledge about the coin's
rarity and revealed interesting information about the history of
the coin offered here:
Finest Certified at PCGS
Ex: F.C.C. Boyd, Dr. Charles Green, Amon Carter
"1926 $20.00, San Francisco Mint. Uncirculated. Full mint luster. Excessively rare. This identical specimen is from the 'World's Greatest Collection,' Lot No. 1029, sold in January, 1946. The catalogers at that time had this to say about this coin: "One of the rarest of United States coins. This Double Eagle should take off on a record breaking spree. It is our opinion that the selling price will exceed $1,000.00." (At that time the coin cataloged for $150.00.) The coin brought $1,100. To the best of my knowledge only three specimens are known to exist. The Berenstein Collection did not have it. As stated above, it is undoubtedly one of the very rarest of American gold coins."
The coin realized $1,525, a staggering sum for that time. The World's Greatest Collection was the magnificent U.S. coin collection assembled by F.C.C. Boyd and cataloged by Abe Kosoff in 1945-1946. Boyd was the vice president of the Union News Company, served on the board of the National Recovery Administration during the Depression. and was a board member of the Office of Price Administration during World War II. His pattern collection was sold to King Farouk and much of his Colonial material was acquired by John J. Ford, Jr.
The likely buyer of the coin at Mehl's sale was Amon Carter, Sr., another prominent citizen of Fort Worth, Texas. Carter and his son, Amon Carter, Jr., put together a world-class collection, including an 1804 dollar, one of the three known specimens of the 1822 half eagle, and many rare dates from the Saint-Gaudens series. The main body of the collection, including this coin, was sold by Stack's in 1984, but the 1822 half eagle was sold earlier to Josiah K. Lilly and now resides in the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Steven Duckor acquired this coin at the Carter sale, providing an unbroken pedigree that leads back more than 65 years and reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century numismatists.
Like many dates from the 1920s, the 1926-S began to turn up in European holdings in the 1950s, and its rarity as a date has declined over the years. Today, the 1926-S ranks as the 18th-rarest issue of the 53-coin series, but it remains quite rare at the MS66 level. PCGS has certified only two examples in MS66, with this coin listed as their single finest specimen at MS66+. The present coin occupies the number one spot in the PCGS Coin Facts Condition Census.
When David Akers cataloged the spectacular 1926-S double eagle in lot 113 of the Thaine B. Price Collection (5/1998), he noted, "A splendid, magnificent coin that is tied for finest known with the Amon Carter specimen, lot 1073, now in the Dr. Steven Duckor Collection and also graded MS-66 by PCGS." We believe the Price coin is the single MS67 NGC example listed in the Census today, while the Carter/Duckor specimen has been upgraded to MS66+ PCGS, and is the superlative coin offered in this lot. Like Akers in 1998, we believe the two coins are virtually equal in their extraordinary quality and eye appeal, and remain the finest examples of this sought-after issue known to the numismatic community.
The Stack's catalogers in the Carter sale mentioned a bagmark on the eagle's belly, just in front of the leg. The noted bagmark on the eagle is prominent, but it is among the few mentionable abrasions on either side of this marvelous coin. This mark, and a small dark color spot near A in DOLLARS are the key pedigree markers that enabled us to trace this coin to the Green Collection. The center obverse is vivid copper-gold, yielding to sea-green tinges at the rims. The reverse offers yellow-gold, orange-gold, and greenish-gold hues all competing for space in a marvelous display. The strike is bold on each side, if not absolute, but the aesthetics are marvelous. This coin possesses unmatched historical interest, combined with the highest available technical quality and superb visual appeal.
Ex: F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 1029; Dr. Charles W. Green Collection (B. Max Mehl, 4/1949), lot 881; Amon G. Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 1073.
David Akers Comments:
For nearly 20 years, the 1926-S was at the top of the rarity pinnacle for Saint-Gaudens double eagles behind only the 1924-S and 1926-D and then just marginally so. It was considered slightly rarer than the 1921, 1927-S, and 1931-D and much more rare than the 1920-S, 1927-D, and 1930-S. The reasons for the rarity of the 1926-S were obvious to the dealers and collectors of the period. Sure, the mintage figure was quite high, slightly over two million pieces, but it was well known that these coins were not put into the normal channels of commerce and they were never available to the general public at local banks. Dealers and collectors knew the mintage figures of the double eagles struck during the 1920s and were well aware of the fact that the coins were not really minted for circulation but rather to be held by the government as part of the gold reserves that backed the country's currency. They also knew that after 1933 virtually all of the gold coins held by the Treasury were melted into gold bars and so, when 1926-S double eagles almost never were offered for sale either privately or at public auction, it was reasonable and logical to assume that they had all been melted, with the exception of just a very few specimens that may have been acquired directly from the mint in the year of issue. What dealers and collectors did not know, however, about the 1926-S and most of the other large mintage issues of the 1920s was that large quantities of double eagles had been sent to Europe between 1926 and 1933 for various payments. Some of these shipments consisted of bags of mixed early dates containing both circulated and uncirculated coins as well as single date bags of uncirculated examples of many issues including the 1926-S. Beginning in the early 1950s many of these coins, including numerous mint state specimens of the 1926-S, were returned to the U.S.
At the end of the 1940's, the consensus among numismatists was that only three to six examples of the 1926-S had survived. B. Max Mehl, the legendary Fort Worth, Texas, dealer claimed in his mail-bid-only sale of the Dr. Charles W. Green Collection in 1949 that only three were known and the Green specimen realized $1,525, more than double the price realized by the 1927-S in that sale and triple the amount brought by the 1930-S. Only the 1926-D realized more than the 1926-S in that sale which was the finest set of Saints sold at auction at that time. The Green coin had been purchased from the F.C.C. Boyd (WGC) sale in 1946. It was apparently purchased by Amon Carter at the Green sale since it was sold with the Carter Collection in 1984. I purchased this coin from the Carter sale for Dr. Duckor and it is the coin offered here. It is the only example graded as high as MS66+ by PCGS and is equal in overall quality to the Dr. Thaine Price coin which is now in an NGC 67 holder. They are the two finest examples I have ever seen and both of them are specimens that were among the few known to the numismatic community in the 1940s when the 1926-S was considered such a premier rarity. As mentioned above, both were almost certainly obtained directly from the San Francisco Mint in the year of issue.
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# 26GF, PCGS# 9185)
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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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