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Near-Gem 1931 Double Eagle, One of the Rarest Issues Produced at the End of the Saint-Gaudens Series

1931 $20 MS64 NGC. Opinions differ regarding the rarity of the 1931 relative to the 1929, 1930-S, 1931-D, and 1932. We can definitely say that, in an absolute sense, the 1931 is more difficult to locate than the 1929. Some experts feel that, in terms of total number of coins known, it is also scarcer than the 1931-D and 1932. As a Gem, the 1931 appears to be more plentiful than the 1929, 1930-S, and 1931-D, but less available than the 1932. Such debates, however, are purely academic because there can be no doubt that the 1931 is among the keys to the 20th century U.S. gold series. The handful (111 coins, to be exact) of examples seen by NGC and PCGS are virtually all Mint State, suggesting that this issue did not see active circulation. Akers (1988) states that survivors are fairly evenly distributed throughout the low and middle Mint State grades, and we suspect that the swell of NGC and PCGS "coins" at the MS64 level actually represents multiple resubmissions of the same pieces in the hope of obtaining a full Gem designation.
Typically sharp for the issue, the richly colored, orange-gold and reddish-gold surfaces possess captivating luster quality. Mint frost blankets all features, and it is both full and vibrant. Just a few abrasions in and around the centers bar this coin from an even higher grade, and a moderate diagonal distraction below Liberty's right (facing) arm should help trace the pedigree of this important Saint-Gaudens Twenty.
From the Aaron Bliss Collection. (NGC ID# 26GN, PCGS# 9192)

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Auction Dates
January, 2003
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 4
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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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