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Lot
3977

1849 $20 Mormon Twenty Dollar -- Surfaces Tooled -- PCGS Genuine. K-4, R.6....

2013 November 1 - 3 US Coin Signature Auction - New York #1191

 
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Auction Ended On: Nov 1, 2013
Item Activity: 15 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
445 Park Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Description:

1849 Mormon Twenty Dollar, K-4
Rare Artifact of Gold Rush and Religious History
1849 $20 Mormon Twenty Dollar -- Surfaces Tooled -- PCGS Genuine. K-4, R.6. In our opinion, the piece has the details of a VF specimen. While all of the gold coinage produced by the Mormon settlers in present-day Utah is historically significant, the largest denomination, that of twenty dollars, is most significant of all. While the U.S. Congress authorized a twenty dollar gold coin or double eagle in March 1849, examples were not released to circulation until the next year, 1850. The twenty dollar coins created by the Mormons, made in 1849 and spent the same year, thus were the first coins of that denomination to enter commerce in North America.

Whether word of the U.S. plans for double eagles had made it to the settlement or the Mormon twenty dollar coins were an independent innovation is an open question. It is possible that the idea for twenties (which must have predated the legislation authorizing it) had traveled by telegraph to the Great Plains Midwest and been taken to the Great Salt Lake Valley in the mind of a settler, but this is not confirmed. Perhaps a document exists in a Latter-day Saints archive that can shed light on the subject.

Leaving aside topics of future research, it is rare for any 1849 Mormon twenty to come to auction, and this is the first such appearance in a Heritage event in more than 15 years. The condition, to be frank, leaves much to be desired. Moderate wear is at the bottom of the list of concerns; not only do a number of old abrasions appear on the yellow-gold surfaces, but the field to the left of the crowned Eye of Jehovah on the reverse shows substantial alteration from misguided efforts to smooth out some flaw or another. Even so, this coin's simple existence and offering are enough to inspire heavy bidding. Get your checkbook ready. Listed on page 393 of the 2014 Guide Book. (PCGS# 10274)

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