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Exceptional MS66 1927-S Twenty
One of the Keys to the Saint-Gaudens Series

1927-S $20 MS65 PCGS. CAC. The 1927-S is not only a celebrated issue in the Saint-Gaudens series in its own right, but its closest cousin, the fabulously rare 1927-D double eagle, further augments its considerable fame. That the 1927-S has maintained such an elite status is made all the more impressive when one considers the number of issues in the series today considered "less rare than previously thought"--almost invariably due to discoveries of small caches of coins in Europe or Latin America, which mostly occurred in the 1940s through the early 1960s. While the 1927-S has not been entirely immune to that phenomenon, far fewer examples have been found than many other issues that constitute the last decade or so in the manufacture of the denomination.
The only Saint-Gaudens double eagles that we can say with certainty to have entirely escaped the "former rarity syndrome" are the 1927-D and the 1933. Of course the status of 10 1933s confiscated by the federal government from the Langbord family is still the subject of current litigation. And so far as is known, there have been no new 1927-Ds uncovered overseas, if at all, in many decades, as its first known auction appearance in the 1944 J.F. Bell Collection was accompanied by a description speculating that no more than a dozen were known, and today we can account for only 13 examples.
On the other hand, the 1926-D in the 1940s was thought rarer than the 1927-D, and yet today, due to those selfsame repatriations, several hundred examples are known, most of them Mint State.
The 1927-S, however, bears more similarities to the 1927-D than to the 1926-D. In the companion volume to the Phillip H. Morse Collection which we handled in 2005, we wrote this concerning the 1927-S issue:

"The 1927-S is one of the rarest and best-known issues in the Saint-Gaudens series of double eagles. In 1988, David Akers ranked the 1927-S as tenth in overall rarity out of the 54-coin series. Fifty years ago it was considered as the fourth rarest, trailing only the 1924-S, 1926-D, and 1926-S. Since that time, a few 1927-S twenties have turned up, one or two at a time but nothing approaching the quantities of, say, the 1926-S. This is in spite of the fact that 3.1 million pieces were produced. The key status of the 1927-S is based on absolute rarity rather than conditional rarity. In all grades, there are probably only 160-170 pieces extant today, but curiously, two-thirds of the pieces known are Uncirculated--and there are several that are known at the Superb level."

As further testament to the modern day rarity of the 1927-S, we note that when the final prices were tallied in the Morse Collection, the finest known 1927-D, an MS67 PCGS example, was in first place. The second, third, and fifth-highest price records went to the incredibly rare 1921s, in MS66, MS65, and MS64, respectively (the 1921 is extremely rare above MS63). Fourth place went to an incredibly rare 1920-S in MS66--and the sixth-highest price went to a 1927-S double eagle in MS67, the single finest known.
This piece in MS66 is one of only a half-dozen so certified at NGC and PCGS combined (two at PCGS and four at NGC), and there are only three examples certified finer, two MS67 at NGC and one at PCGS (10/09).
Like other 1927-S twenties we have handled, this example has dynamic luster characteristics. The intensity of the mint luster and intermingled reddish-gold and lilac colors give it a resemblance to a high grade 1923-D. The surfaces are remarkably free from abrasions, with the only one of note for pedigree purposes located in the left obverse field. An outstanding example of this key Saint-Gaudens twenty.
From The Ralph P. Muller Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GJ, PCGS# 9188)

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Auction Dates
January, 2010
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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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