Bold and Beautiful MS66 1932 Saint
1932 $20 MS66 PCGS. The 1932 Saint-Gaudens double eagle has
some interesting characteristics, aside from its obvious place as
"last collectible piece in the series" (barring the litigated 1933
double eagles). Unlike the earlier issues from 1929 onward, the
1932s are not known to have been ever released into circulation.
Bowers calls them a "classic rarity" and adds "most were melted."
He estimates the number existing in numismatic hands at from 60 to
80 pieces, "nearly all of which are choice or gem quality,
lustrous, and very beautiful." That number, with a factor for
duplicates, seems to coincide fairly well with the current
certified population of 134 pieces, almost equally divided between
NGC and PCGS.
Among the Finest at PCGS
In terms of the condition of those survivors never released into circulation, it is edifying to compare them with, say, the 1929 Philadelphia issue, one that also saw mass meltings but some survivors of which certainly saw circulation. While most certified 1929s cluster in the single grade of MS64, with smaller numbers of 63s and 65s, the 1932 coins actually show a larger total of MS65 and MS66 pieces combined than the number of MS64s. Accounting for the outlying pieces on either side of the noted grades, the average certified 1929 is barely MS63, while the average grade of a 1932 is over MS64.
The foregoing statistical discussion is just that, statistics, all to make the point that the "average" 1932 double eagle is found considerably nicer than the "average" 1929. But the current piece is another example in this memorable run of double eagles that has nothing to do with averages! According to the current PCGS population data, this is one of six MS66 pieces certified at that service, with none finer. NGC has certified 10 pieces in MS66, along with three pieces in MS67. One must always remember, however, with such coins where a one-point grade difference can make a huge difference in the price, that the 19 "submission events" at both services could represent no more than perhaps eight to a dozen individual coins.
The collaborators on The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse Collection concur that "as a rule, the 1932 is a great-looking coin with outstanding luster and color. According to Akers, it is superior in this regard to the other late-date issues, except possibly the 1930-S. The color is typically medium to rich yellow or greenish yellow-gold, but some examples exhibit light to medium orange and greenish-gold patina. Most 1932s are very frosty, but some have a satiny texture. Most specimens are sharply struck, though some of the satiny coins reveal softness on Liberty's figure. All in all, the eye appeal for this issue is well above average for the series."
Judging the present coin by the criteria above, it still appears well positioned in terms of aesthetics. The surfaces are more satiny than frosty, with bountiful cartwheel luster radiating from both sides, this coin's chief and most obvious attribute. The surfaces are indeed yellow-orange with a touch of greenish-gold in the color palette. The generous strike extends to Liberty's face and the Capitol dome, although mild weakness is noted on Liberty's sandals. Two small nicks, one just above the eagle's head, a second on the forward wing edge, can be used as pedigree identifiers, although neither is particularly distracting. This bold and beautiful Premium Gem will form the cornerstone of a fine collection. Population: 6 in 66, 0 finer (12/07).
From The Jacob Collection of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GR, PCGS# 9194)
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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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