1931 Twenty Dollar, MS64
1931 $20 MS64 PCGS. CAC. The 1931 Saint-Gaudens double eagle
is a formidable rarity in the series, prized by numismatists for
the beauty of its design and its mysterious, elusive nature. David
Akers considers it the sixth rarest date of the 53-coin series, and
the second most elusive of the famous "late date" Saints; second
only to the famous 1930-S.
Exceptionally Attractive Example of This Rarity
Among 20th century U.S. gold coins, no group is more celebrated than the later collectible dates in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, from 1929-1932. These coins have mystified collectors since the late 1930s, when they were first seriously collected. Mint records indicate these issues were produced in ample numbers, but the supply in numismatic hands has always been minuscule. Of course, the explanation of this paradox is: The great majority of these coins were never released from storage in Treasury vaults and Federal Reserve Banks. They were produced and held as backing for currency at a time when the United States was still on the gold standard. When Franklin Roosevelt took the country off the gold standard, and called in domestic holdings of gold via executive order in 1933, almost the entire production of these dates was quickly removed from the storage facilities. The coins were later melted into gold ingots and stored in the Fort Knox Bullion Repository.
In the case of the 1931 double eagle, a reported mintage of 2.9 million pieces was achieved at the Philadelphia Mint, but very few examples were released before the Gold Recall took effect. Mint records studied by Dr. Charles W. Green in the 1940s reveal only 45 coins were actually released through official channels. However, many more pieces were saved from melting by Treasury officials and mint personnel who exchanged older, more common double eagles for the rare 1931 coins, and sold them at a profit to Philadelphia and New York area coin dealers.
David Akers estimates the surviving population of Mint State 1931s at 65-85 pieces, almost all of which are in mint condition. The 1931 has always been treated as a featured attraction in its infrequent auction appearances, and record prices often attend these offerings. When a magnificent Superb Gem specimen was offered as lot 6710 of the Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), it realized $254,500, a record price at the time. The same coin was recently offered as lot 3650 of the ANA Signature Auction (Heritage, 8/2010), where it realized a new record of $322,000.
This example has smooth, frosted surfaces with rich reddish patina, and there are no obvious abrasions on either side. The strike is strong overall with only localized weakness noted on the eagle's breast feathers and Liberty's nose. There are no alloy spots as seen on many 1931 twenties. Exceptionally appealing and strongly suggestive of an even higher grade. Population: 27 in 64, 35 finer (6/12).
From The Harvey Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26GN, PCGS# 9192)
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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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