Highly Sought-After 1931 Twenty, MS651931 $20 MS65 PCGS. The 1931 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, one of several challenging Great Depression-era double eagle issues, is a prime rarity despite a mintage that approaches 3 million coins. It has been recognized as an important issue nearly since the time it was released--or, rather, not released. Few of the coins struck actually left the Mint. Most were stored in vaults and eventually melted after the Gold Recall a couple of years later. Collectors quickly acquired the few examples that found their way out of the Mint. Nearly every known survivor grades at least MS60, and a grade of MS64 is typical. Only a few are known in higher grades, including three pieces in the Smithsonian Institution (one MS67 and two MS65), three examples formerly in the Philip Morse Collection (MS67, 66, and 65), and high-grade coins once owned by Jeff Browning, Thaine Price, and the Norweb family.
The exact number of survivors is unknown. David Akers estimates 65-85 Mint State coins in his recent Handbook. Dave Bowers in his Guide Book to the series suggests between 80 and 120 Mint State examples, and another five to eight coins in lower grades. His estimates illustrate the rarity of circulated coins.
Every author or numismatist has an opinion about the rarity of the 1931 double eagle. In the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth write:
"As the depression in America deepened in the early 1930s, the Philadelphia Mint coined a substantial number of new double eagles during 1931. These sat around unwanted in Treasury or bank vaults, only to be gathered up a few years later and melted. Virtually the entire mintage was wiped out, leaving perhaps 200 to 300 surviving pieces."
These various opinions lead to disagreement about the true rarity of the date. In The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the authors comment that "the 1931-P is probably the one with the least clearly-defined relative rarity ranking."
The present piece is a lovely Gem with frosted yellow-gold luster and few blemishes or imperfections on either side. All design elements are boldly rendered, and the overall eye appeal is excellent. When seeking an example of the 1931 double eagle, patience and discipline are two of the collector's strongest allies, but equally important is recognizing the "right" coin and pursuing it. This example holds every promise of satisfying the discerning numismatist's needs.
From The Carter Family Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (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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