Extremely Rare 1881 Twenty, MS61

    1881 $20 MS61 PCGS. The first of seven extremely rare low mintage Philadelphia Mint double eagles, the 1881 had a business strike mintage of 2,199 coins, actually lower than the mintage of the famous 1856-O double eagle rarity. The business strike production provides the first ingredient for rarity and the fact that few were spared from the ravages of commerce secures its place among the most challenging Liberty twenties. Of the 35-40 pieces believed to survive, only a small handful qualifies as Mint State. The number of pieces known is somewhat greater, with a total of 41 business strikes certified by both NGC and PCGS. Only two submissions have been certified MS61 at PCGS, with none finer. NGC has also graded two MS61 pieces, in addition to an amazing MS64. Those five submissions are the only Mint State examples that either of the two services have certified, and likely represent a small number of actual coins. Regarding the 1881 twenty, Dave Bowers succinctly writes: "Circulation strikes are rarities in any grade, with no more than a few dozen believed to exist in numismatic hands." The low mintage of Philadelphia issues during the 1880s is unexplained but probably a function of low gold deposits during the silver coinage boom created a few years earlier by the Bland-Allison Act that created the Morgan silver dollar. Today, estimates suggest that about 40 circulation strikes and about a dozen proofs still exist.
    This important Uncirculated representative is a bit more reflective than the other two Mint State pieces sold over the past decade, not surprising since so few 1881 twenties were originally produced. Abrasions are fairly plentiful in the obverse fields, but are not particularly bothersome on the portrait and are a bit less numerous and even distributed over the reverse. With interest in "blue chip" gold coins such as this at an all-time high, we feel confident that this low mintage gold rarity in unsurpassable condition could reach a record price level.
    The date is centered between the bust and the border, from a four-digit logotype; the 88 appear to be slightly wider than the 18 or the 81. The left edge of the base of the first 1 is over the right edge of a dentil below it. There is no evidence of die polishing, die cracks, clash marts, or other imperfections on either side.
    Ex: The Kutasi Collection (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3203.
    From The Baltimore Collection.
    (Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 26BC, PCGS# 8994)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2008
    23rd-25th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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