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    1881 Liberty Twenty, AU58
    Rare Type Three Issue
    Prooflike Fields, Vivid Color

    1881 $20 AU58 NGC. The year 1881 saw a reduction in double eagle coinage at the Philadelphia Mint that continued through most of the decade. Only 2,199 business-strike twenties were produced at the Philadelphia facility in 1881, accompanied by a fairly generous mintage of 61 proofs. Because of the low mintage, the dies saw little wear and most 1881 double eagles have reflective prooflike surfaces. Fortunately, the date on the business-strike coins is placed higher and to the left of the date on proofs, making it possible to distinguish between the two issues. Only a handful of well-heeled numismatists could afford to collect double eagles systematically in the 1880s, so the proof mintage was probably adequate to meet collector demand at the time. Very few, if any, business-strike coins were saved for numismatic purposes and the 1881 has a low survival rate, especially in high grade. No more than 40-60 examples survive in all grades, and the two leading grading services have combined to certify 16 coins in all Mint State grades, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (7/16).

    Because of the lack of numismatic interest in the coins, early auction appearances of the 1881 are few-and-far-between. One early appearance was in lot 367 of the Smith, Dickie and Other Collections (Thomas Elder, 11/1935):

    "1881. $20. P. Mint. Only 2,260 struck hence Very rare. Fine to VFine."

    Elder combined the mintage of proof and business-strike issues in his production figures, indicative of the then-current belief that proofs were merely high quality examples of the business-strike production. Only in recent years have numismatists defined proofs and business-strikes as different issues, because of their different production methods. The coin realized $50, a strong price at the time. Today, examples sell for many multiples of that price, with the MS61 PCGS example in lot 5837 of the Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2014) realizing $152,750.

    The present coin is an attractive near-Mint specimen, with sharply detailed design elements and the expected prooflike reflectivity in the fields, along with hints of mint frost in some areas. The pleasing orange-gold surfaces show the expected number of minor abrasions, but the overall presentation is most appealing. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called. Census: 6 in 58, 5 finer (7/16).
    From The Twelve Oaks Collection.(Registry values: N4719)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26BC, PCGS# 8994)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    9th-12th Friday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,111

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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