Condition Rarity 1865 Twenty, MS65
1865 $20 MS65 PCGS. CAC. The 1865 twenty dollar gold piece
comes from an original mintage of 351,175 circulation strikes and
25 proofs. Before the discovery of the wreck of the S.S.
Republic off the coast of Georgia in July of 2003, the 1865
business strike was generally only seen in the grades of Very Fine
or Extremely Fine. Douglas Winter and Adam Crum, writing in An
Insider's Guide to Collecting Type I Double Eagles, summarized
the perceived rarity of this issue prior to the discovery:
The Finest Seen at PCGS
"The 1865 double eagle is a relatively scarce date. It is most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. It is scarce in the lower About Uncirculated grades and very scarce in properly graded About Uncirculated-55 to About Uncirculated-58. It is very rare in Uncirculated and there are just two or three currently known that grade higher than Mint State-62."
The 1865 was therefore either missing from important earlier collections (Garrett and Guth, in their 2006 Encyclopedia, indicate: "The Smithsonian currently lacks an example"), consisted of a lower-grade specimen (the previous authors state: "The best Harry W. Bass Jr. could acquire in 30-plus years of collecting was About Uncirculated"), or filled in with a proof (the collection of James Ten Eyck, sold in 1922 by B. Max Mehl, is listed in the catalog as a Brilliant Proof, the specimen in the Garrett collection was described in the 1980 Bowers and Ruddy catalog as a Choice Brilliant Proof, and the Eliasberg coin was listed as a Proof 67 in the 1982 Bowers and Ruddy catalog).
The rarity changed with the S.S. Republic discovery. Of the more than 17,000 recovered coins, 300 or so were 1865 twenties, most of which were in Mint State, though only a small fraction have been graded MS65.
Our current Gem offering (which cannot be traced to the Republic recovery) is the solitary MS65 seen by PCGS, as well as the finest 1865 twenty at that service! Both sides yield vibrant luster on its yellow-gold surfaces that are tinted with hints of apricot. The design features are well defined, including full delineation in the obverse star centrils. A small mark on the lower-left part of Liberty's neck will help identify the coin for future catalogers. This classic piece of Americana is sure to generate spirited bidding.
(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 269U, PCGS# 8943)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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