Premium Gem 1932 Saint-Gaudens Twenty
1932 $20 MS66 PCGS. The 1932 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is
one of the rarest dates of the series, and the present coin is one
of the finest specimens known. This coin possesses a distinguished
pedigree, linking it to two of the most famous collections of
double eagles ever formed. The combination of high technical grade,
spectacular eye appeal, and illustrious history makes this offering
a numismatic landmark the discerning collector will not pass
Last Collectible Date of the Series
Among the Finest Certified, Ex: Carter-Price
The 1932 Saint-Gaudens double eagle enjoyed a more-than-adequate mintage of 1.1 million pieces, but it seems unlikely any examples were released into general circulation before the Gold Recall of the following year. Virtually all examples known are Mint State, probably representing specimens purchased from the Treasury Department by collectors in 1932.
According to Q. David Bowers, research by Dr. Charles W. Green in the 1940s indicates only 110 examples were officially released in 1932. Allowing for natural attrition, this figure coincides well with current estimates of the number known. In A Handbook of 20th Century Gold Coins, David Akers estimates the surviving population as 75-95 specimens, virtually all Mint State, and ranks the 1932 as the seventh-rarest coin of the 53-coin series. In his double eagle series reference, Q. David Bowers is more conservative in his estimate of just 60-80 specimens extant.
Certainly, examples of the 1932 in Premium Gem condition are very rare. Current population data from the leading grading services reveals PCGS has certified eight coins in MS66, with none finer; NGC has graded 11 Premium Gems, with none finer (6/10). Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth report the example in the Smithsonian is one of the finest known and might grade MS67. That coin is, of course, permanently off the market.
The auction history of the 1932 double eagle begins in the late 1930s, probably with lot 1394 of the Needham, Herrick and Other Collections (Thomas Elder, 9/1937), "1932. $20. Same type. Brilliant uncirculated. Of greatest rarity. None struck for circulation. Value $350." If the lot realized anywhere near Elder's estimate, this would be a triumphant beginning for a coin that was only five years old at the time.
The documented history of the present coin begins with its appearance in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 1082, where it was described as "Choice Brilliant Uncirculated." Carter was the publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a director of American Airlines. His collection was one of the finest sold in the 1980s, including examples of rarities such as the finest known 1794 dollar, 1804 dollar, 1884 and 1885 Trade dollars, 1815 half eagle, and many others. Later the coin was featured in lot 122 of the Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection (David Akers, 5/1998), where it realized $60,500. The Price Collection is memorable for including probably the finest collection of Saint-Gaudens double eagles to come to market from the time of the Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), to the Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005). Price had an eye for quality that has seldom been matched by any numismatist. Akers' description of lot 122 follows:
"1932, Gem Uncirculated. This is the last coin in the Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles and, like the other rare issues immediately preceding it, it is outstanding in all respects. The coin is fully frosty with very distinctive medium greenish-gold color, and a very sharp strike. The surfaces are extremely high quality with only a few minor marks on the figure of Liberty and on the eagle. There are also a few very faint hairlines on the coin, but the fields are remarkably clean, nearly pristine, in fact. As is the case with all of these late date Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles in the Dr. Price Collection, this piece has superb eye appeal because of its great color, luster and originality. Only a few other known examples of this issue are equal in quality to this one and none is indisputably finer; certainly a prettier one does not exist."
Akers' description of the coin is as valid today as it was 12 years ago. This example seems to have been off the market for most of the period since its memorable appearance in the Price sale. Comparable coins have been active on the auction scene and continue to set new records for prices realized. The splendid MS66 PCGS coin in lot 2341 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010) recently brought a record-tying $161,000. We expect the trend to continue when this magnificent specimen crosses the auction block.
From The Dr. Brandon Smith Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GR, PCGS# 9194)
View all of [The Dr. Brandon Smith Collection ]
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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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