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Exceptional MS66 1931 Double Eagle
A Classic Double Eagle Rarity

1931 $20 MS66 NGC. The 1931 issue, like its brethren the 1930-S, the 1931-D, and 1932, is a classic rarity issued late in the history of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. The original mintage figure of 2.9 million-plus pieces is meaningless; the low survival rate, after the great Gold Recall of 1933, makes this issue among the rarest series issues. In our The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse Collection, we made the following comments about the 1931:

"Among late date (1929-1932) issues of Saint-Gaudens double eagles, the 1931-P is probably the one with the least clearly-defined relative rarity ranking. Some numismatists rank it second in overall population rarity only to the 1930-S, a step ahead of the 1932 and 1931-D and, of course, the 1929. Others believe the 1931, while rarer than the 1929, is less available than the other three late-date issues. Our experience leads us to side with the former camp regarding the relative rarity of the 1931."

The present example is not only rare in the absolute sense, but its phenomenal preservation also makes it a conditional rarity of the first order. Most of the Mint State survivors are in the ranges from MS61-MS64, although Gems are occasionally available as well. Premium Gems are another story altogether, as NGC and PCGS combined have certified 14 submissions at that level, a figure that almost certainly includes duplications (8/09). Only a single coin, an MS67 PCGS example formerly in the Phillip H. Morse Collection, has been certified finer at either service.
This MS66 coin possesses delightfully appealing surfaces, with consistent, rich orange-gold coloration throughout. We note for pedigree purposes a couple of minor ticks on Liberty's left (facing) thigh, and a contact mark that passes through several rays of the sun in the obverse left field. There is a tiny dotlike planchet indentation, as made, below the B of LIBERTY. These minor distractions are more than offset by wonderful luster, the overall bold strike, and a high-end reverse that approaches an even finer grade.
We expect exceptionally strong bidding in this healthy gold market for this, one of the finest representatives available of this major double eagle rarity.
From The Vegas Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GN, PCGS# 9192)

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Auction Dates
September, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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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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