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Remarkable 1931-D Twenty, MS64

1931-D $20 MS64 PCGS. Some of the earlier Saint-Gaudens series issues, such as the 1927-D, actually saw considerable mintages but were later melted, except for a few (or in the case of the 1927-D, very few) examples. But that is not the story of the 1931-D. The 1931-D was produced in the depths of the Great Depression, and so close to the Gold Recall of 1933 that it is unlikely that examples ever circulated to any significant extent. In both cases, the nation's mints reported the numbers produced--not the numbers actually issued later, nor the numbers of pieces that were later melted.
In the case of the 1931-D, the number reportedly produced was 106,500 coins. Excluding the (so far) uncollectible 1933 twenty, of the four remaining issues that conclude the Saint-Gaudens series--the 1930-S, 1931, 1931-D, 1932--the 1931-D was at one time considered equally as rare as the 1930-S. Akers' recent Handbook of 20th century gold coins updates the situation:

"Until a small hoard of approximately 15-20 pieces entered the market in the early 1980s, the 1931-D was virtually identical to the 1930-S in both overall and high-grade rarity. Now, however, the 1931-D is more similar to the 1931 and 1932 in terms of total number of coins known. The hoard contained coins that grade only MS-60 to MS-64, however, with the result that the 1931-D is still nearly as rare as the 1930-S in high grades. A few premium-quality Gems have survived, none of which has a distinct advantage over the others as finest known."

This is not to say that the present 1931-D is near-Gem condition is anything but strictly rare, and this piece is certainly a coin that any advanced collector would be thrilled to take possession of. PCGS has certified only 39 pieces in this grade, with 18 finer--as always, minus a number of duplications (3/10). The frosty surfaces here offer delightful reddish-orange coloration predominating. Only a few wispy marks, in particular a small scrape from Liberty's midsection out into the left obverse field, appear to account for the near-Gem grade. The strike is bold, and the softness on the Capitol appears not to be strike softness, but rather perhaps a bit of die filling, as the star in the center of the building is quite sharp. A remarkable example of this storied issue.
From The Carter Family Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26GP, PCGS# 9193)

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Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2010
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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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