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One of the Finest Known 1926-S Twenties, MS661926-S $20 MS66 PCGS. The 1926-S was considered at one time to be one of the Big Three in the Saint-Gaudens series of double eagles, along with 1924-S and 1926-D. It outranked such luminaries as the 1920-S, 1930-S, and even the 1927-D. To underscore the rarity of this issue, Max Mehl stated in his mail bid sale of the Dr. Green Collection in 1949 that he believed only three pieces were known. Bidders in that sale drove the price of Green's 1926-S to $1,525--more than three times what the 1930-S brought ($450) and more than twice what his 1927-D realized ($630). Akers notes that in the Menjou Sale (1950), the 1926-S "was conspicuous by its absence; it was the only late date Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle other than the 1927-D that was missing from that famous sale."
Then in the 1950s, small quantities of 1926-S twenties began to turn up in Europe. Over the next 20 years the status of the '26-S plummeted from "unobtainable" to "very scarce." Today it is considered a medium rarity among the other mintmarked Saints from the mid-1920s. Almost all known 1926-S double eagles are in mint condition, but they are heavily concentrated in the MS62-64 grade range. At the Gem level, the '26-S retains much of its former glory with fewer than two dozen pieces known today and Gems regularly bring $20,000-25,000 when offered at public auction. The highest price paid (to date) for this date is the PCGS MS66 coin in the Thaine Price Collection (1998), a fabulous coin that brought an astonishing $77,000.
Again, as with the 1924-S and 1925-S, the 1926-S is often seen with die cracks, an indication that the dies were used long after they should have been retired. Die bulging is also sometimes seen around the rim, giving the peripheral stars a raised and connected appearance. The striking definition is usually quite strong, and a minority of survivors show the "beveled" rims from previous years. Mint luster varies from strongly frosted to satiny, and coloration is usually medium yellow-gold to green-gold. This particular coin shows many of those traits, including the beveled rim and occasional peripheral die cracks. However, die bulging is not noted. The mint luster is especially pronounced and frosted, with an intermingling of reddish-gold and lilac on each side. The striking details are strong throughout. This is one of the finest 1926-S twenties offered at auction in recent years. Population: 3 in 66, 0 finer (11/09).
From The Ralph P. Muller Collection.(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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