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Description

1931-D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, MS65
Condition Rarity, Radiant Surfaces

1931-D $20 MS65 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Brahin/Connecticut State Library. Any collector with a strong budget and a desire can assemble a nearly complete set of Saint-Gaudens double eagles. However, it is the patient collector that will assemble a World-Class set. Just finding every date and mintmark issue is a challenge, but patience is required to find just the right coin for each issue. Quality is the key word for the best collections, combining grade with eye appeal. The present coin is an example of the best quality. It is more than just a Gem, possessing the aesthetic characteristics of the finest coins known today.
During the throws of the depression, there was little need for coinage. For example, the Denver Mint only made cents, dimes, and double eagles in 1931. Only 106,500 of those double eagles were coined in Denver, and nearly all of the mintage remained inside Mint and treasury vaults until the time came to melt the coins a few years later. Only those few coins that were saved by collectors at the time of issue are preserved today.
The 1931-D is the second rarest D-Mint Saint-Gaudens double eagle, behind the legendary 1927-D. From a small mintage of 106,500 pieces, the 1931-D is considered the eighth rarest date in the 53 coin series. David Akers recalls that 30 years ago the 1931-D was a serious challenger to the 1930-S for the title of rarest late date Saint-Gaudens twenty. A small hoard of 15-20 pieces surfaced in the early 1980s, however, raising the availability of the 1931-D to about the same level as the 1931 and 1932 issues. Today, experts believe perhaps 95-110 examples survive in Mint State, with only a handful of coins known in circulated grades. In higher grades the 1931-D is quite rare. NGC has certified only six coins at the Gem level, with a single specimen finer; while PCGS has graded fourteen examples in MS65, with four finer.
The present coin can trace its provenance back to its date of issue, as it was part of the deaccessioned holdings of the Connecticut State Library. Elsewhere in this catalog we have told the story of Librarian George Godard and his special relationship with T. Louis Comparette, curator of the Mint Collection in the early 20th century. Godard updated the collection of the Library every year by purchasing coins directly from the mints, or from the coins provided for assay purposes if none were available through regular channels, using funds allocated for the purpose. This practice was continued, even after Comparette's death in 1922.
The coin offered here displays the bold impression that typifies the issue, but its radiant surfaces are anything but common. The typical 1931-D twenty is among the least attractive of the late-date issues, but this piece displays swirling, frosty luster and bright, reddish-gold surfaces that yield to copper and lilac on the eagle's wing. The surfaces are essentially devoid of post-production impairments although, for pedigree purposes alone, we note a small lateral abrasion on Liberty's lower right leg. This piece truly possesses the quality of the best available 1931-D double eagles and it will make a nice addition to a World-Class collection.
Ex: Museum of Connecticut History Collection (Heritage, 6/1995), lot 6033; Phillip H. Morse Collection, Part II (Heritage, 12/2005), lot 2081.
From The Jay Brahin Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GP, PCGS# 9193)

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Auction Dates
January, 2010
6th-10th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
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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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