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    Memorable 1885 Double Eagle, MS61
    One of Only 751 Examples Struck

    1885 $20 MS61 PCGS. The 1885 double eagle is on the short list of the United States' lowest mintage gold coins that were actually produced as business strikes rather than in proof-only format. The 1885 twenties have an impossibly low mintage of 751 coins, although its foundational rarity is somewhat overshadowed by the 1882 double eagle, which has an even lower production, recorded at 571 pieces.
    Despite the incredibly low business strike production, the issue may be somewhat underrated, even today. Garrett and Guth posit the following in their gold Encyclopedia:

    "The availability of Proof examples is the only thing keeping this issue from being extremely expensive. The Smithsonian collection lacks a circulation-strike example of the date for this reason. It is estimated that there are fewer than 100 known in all grades. Most of the 1885 double eagles seen by the authors have been in circulated condition. There are a few examples known at the Choice level."

    What Garrett and Guth allude to here is the 19th century preference (of the few well-heeled collectors who could afford to dabble in twenty dollar gold pieces) for proof coins over business strikes, no matter how low the mintage. Of course, the desirability and costly nature of high-grade proof Liberty Head gold coinage from the 19th century only reinforces how difficult, elusive, and desirable the business-strike 1885 double eagles truly are.
    In MS61 this coin is one of two so certified at PCGS, with five coins finer (9/09). This example offers splendid eye appeal throughout the orange-gold surfaces. A few ticks on the obverse are noted, along with a couple of others on the reverse shield. But it is probably two small obverse digs, between stars 4 and 5, that preclude an even higher grade. The coin nonetheless radiates eye appeal in considerable quantities.
    Why were so few double eagles produced of this date and mint? For much of the 1880s, the San Francisco Mint had churned out double eagles by the millions each year; perhaps there was simply little need for P-mint twenties. 1885 was a year of great contrasts overall: Millions of dollars, cents, and dimes were produced in Philadelphia, yet three cent nickels, quarters, and halves were all made in tiny amounts--and the 1885 quarter eagle's mintage is nearly as low as the double eagle, 800 coins.
    From The Little Rock Collection.(Registry values: N7079)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26BM, PCGS# 9003)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Little Rock Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    22nd-24th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,994

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