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Description

1931 Saint-Gaudens Twenty, MS63
Only 66-85 Pieces Believed Known

1931 $20 MS63 PCGS. The 1931 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is one of the premier rarities in the 20th century U.S. gold series, and any auction appearance is a noteworthy, and frequently record breaking, numismatic occasion. Last year's sale of the finest-known specimen, a stunning PCGS graded MS67 example, in the ANA Signature Auction (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3650, realized $322,000. While the present coin may not equal the fantastic quality of that piece, its appearance is sure to generate excitement among series enthusiasts.
The 1931 is one of the famous "late dates" of the series -- coins that were primarily held in domestic banks and Treasury vaults from the day they were minted until the day they were melted, after the Gold Recall of 1933 -- whose mintage figures are meaningless in relationship to their availability today. The 1931 claims a huge reported mintage of 2.9 million pieces, but virtually all of this production was never released into circulation. Ground-breaking research by Dr. Charles W. Green in the 1940s suggests only 45 coins were actually released through official channels. It is certain that other examples were saved by Mint personnel and Treasury officials, who made a cottage industry of exchanging common-date double eagles for the 1931-dated coins, and selling the 1931s to Philadelphia and New York area coin dealers, but the supply has always been quite small. Noted gold specialist David Akers believes the 1931 is the sixth rarest coin in the 53-coin series, with a surviving population of 65 to 85 specimens in Mint State. The 1931 is almost always seen in Uncirculated condition. Current population data from NGC and PCGS suggests a slightly larger population, with a combined total of 113 submission events between them, but this figure is undoubtedly inflated by resubmissions.
The 1931 double eagles were well produced, with surprisingly good quality control for such a large mintage. The strike is usually sharp, and the luster is vibrant and frosty, and surface abrasions are seldom a problem. This holds true for this example. The softly frosted surfaces display a subtle interplay of rose and orange-gold color, and there are no singularly mentionable abrasions on either side.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26GN, PCGS# 9192)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
Members Tracking: N/A
Page Views: 630

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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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