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    MS62 1866-S No Motto Liberty Twenty
    The Finest Graded Example of a Legendary Rarity

    1866-S $20 No Motto MS62 NGC. Small S. This last offering in the Galt's Gulch Collection is a fitting capstone to this monumental assemblage of Type One S-mint double eagles -- the single finest certified example of the 1866-S No Motto twenty, a legendary rarity that is among the rarest double eagle issues in the entire Liberty Head series.
    The still-United States of America breathed a collective sigh of relief when the horrible Civil War was officially concluded at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. With the stroke of a pen rather than a sword the "great Civil War, testing whether this nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure," was finished. That nation, of which President Lincoln spoke about so eloquently in his Gettysburg Address, had passed its longest and severest trial.
    The surge in religious fervor that the conflict engendered led the Rev. M.R. Watkinson, of Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, to write to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase in November 1861, suggesting that U.S. coinage should bear a reference to God. Although the first regular issue to bear IN GOD WE TRUST was the two cent piece which debuted in 1864, pattern coins exist from as early as 1861, bearing various short forms of the motto, GOD OUR TRUST and OUR TRUST IS IN GOD.
    Only the U.S. coins with a larger "canvas" or surface area bore the new, finalized inscription IN GOD WE TRUST, which appeared in 1866 on the silver quarter, half dollar, and dollar, and on the gold half eagle, eagle, and double eagle.
    The San Francisco Mint produced about 950,000 double eagles in 1866, but only 120,000 were the No Motto type, an anachronism produced in February 1866 from a leftover reverse die (a usual custom) before the new With Motto reverse dies arrived in March. Only San Francisco produced the 1866 variety lacking the motto. Even though the issue has a larger mintage, it was apparently saved in percentage terms in much lower numbers than the 1861-S Paquet Reverse twenties.
    As mentioned, the present MS62 1866-S No Motto double eagle in the Galt's Gulch Collection is a fitting conclusion to this marvelously high-grade and historic complete collection of Type One double eagles from the first dozen-plus years of the San Francisco Mint. The 1866-S No Motto is a fabulously rare issue even in AU, much less in any grade approaching Mint State. As recently as 2008, no Mint State examples of the 1866-S No Motto had been certified, when Garrett and Guth wrote, "Even by today's more liberal grading standards, there are no known Mint State examples." Today, however, PCGS has graded a single specimen at the MS60 level, while NGC has certified two pieces in MS60, one in MS61, and the present piece the sole finest certified, at MS62 (11/11).
    The present piece shows complete, generous luster flowing from each side, with orange-gold color prevailing and ample eye appeal. The grade determinant is a couple of intersecting digs on the cheek of Liberty, not overlarge but situated on a focal point of the coin. The reverse is relatively contact-free, with a Small S mintmark likely carried over from the 1865-S issues.
    This piece should incite intense fervor when it crosses the auction block, as the finest of the issue that we have offered by four grade points. An AU58 PCGS example in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3717, realized $195,500, and a similarly graded piece in our Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 4217, realized $172,500. We fully expect this MS62 NGC piece to set a new price record for the issue.
    From The Galt's Gulch Collection.(Registry values: N1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 269W, PCGS# 8945)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    View all of [The Galt's Gulch Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,447

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