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Rare 1931-D MS66 Double Eagle, Among the Finest Known

1931-D $20 MS66 PCGS. Ex: Price. During the sparse-coinage year of 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, only 106,500 double eagles were produced at the Denver Mint. These were struck primarily for export, but except for a few, it appears that most never left the Treasury vaults, and were eventually melted in the late 1930s. Concerning the rarity status of the 1931, David Akers (May 19, 1998) writes: "In the distant past, the 1931-D was widely regarded as the fourth or fifth rarest issue of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series, surpassed in rarity only by the 1924-S, 1926-D and 1926-S, as well as possibly the 1927-S, although the latter was usually considered about the equal of the 1931-D. The 1927-D, now the premier issue of the series, was actually thought to be less rare than this issue until the early 1950s when small quantities of the 1931-D first began showing up in European banks. Over the next two decades, several mini-hoards of the 1931-D were discovered, but relatively few of these pieces graded better than Choice Uncirculated and the majority were heavily marked and lackluster."
PCGS and NGC have certified, to date, 145 1931-D double eagles, only three of which are not in Uncirculated grades. The vast majority of 1931-Ds seen by the services (107 pieces) fall into the MS62 to MS64 range. Twenty-three Gems have been graded, and a mere four MS66 coins. None finer have been seen by either service. Auction records are in concert with the population data. Perusal of Krause Publications' Auction Prices Realized, along with our own auction records, indicates that Gem and finer appearances of the 1931-D are scant. Ten MS65 pieces have gone through the major auction houses in the past 15 or so years, and only one MS66.
The Premium Gem 1931-D specimen offered in this lot comes out of the Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection, and was previously off the market for 40 years. Akers, in his catalog description of the Price coin, writes: "... one of the two finest examples of this very rare issue that I have seen, possibly even the finest. The only other example that has any real claim to matching it is the superb Amon Carter specimen (now in the Dr. Steven Duckor Collection), which is the only 1931-D graded MS66 by any major grading service as of the writing of this catalog. This Dr. Price specimen, however, has even cleaner surfaces than the Duckor-Carter specimen, and it equals it in terms of its eye appeal and overall appearance. The color of this coin is an ultra-rich orange gold and, like the Duckor-Carter coin, the luster is extraordinary, something not at all typical of this issue which is generally the least attractive of the late dates from 1929 to 1932. There is one small mark in the field between Liberty's outstretched arm and TY, and there are also a few other tiny marks, as well as a couple of faint hairlines, but by the strictest standards, this is a Gem of the highest order and is actually one of the choicest coins in Dr. Price's entire collection of Saint-Gaudens double eagles." To Akers' description of this outstanding 1931-D, we add the following. Blushes of mint-green, yellow-gold, and lavender accent the orange-gold patina, and potent luster enlivens both sides. A well executed strike manifests itself in sharp definition on Liberty's head, hands, and foot, as well as on the panes of the Capitol building and the eagle's feathers. Connoisseurs of Saint-Gaudens gold coinage will not want to miss out on the chance to acquire one of the finest known representatives of this rare date. Population: 2 in 66, 0 finer (11/06).
From The Kutasi Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 26GP, PCGS# 9193)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 2,718

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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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