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    1870-CC Double Eagle, AU50
    Rarest Carson City Twenty
    Especially Elusive in High Grade

    1870-CC $20 AU50 NGC. Variety 1-A. The Carson City Mint struck only 3,789 Liberty double eagles in 1870, during its first year of operations. The coins were all released into circulation at the time of issue and none were saved by contemporary collectors. As a result, the 1870-CC is the rarest Carson City double eagle and the issue is unknown in Mint State grades today. It is the most famous and sought-after gold coin from the Carson City Mint and it may be the rarest Type Two double eagle in high grade.

    Collecting date and mintmark runs of U.S. coins did not become popular until after 1893, when Augustus Heaton published his seminal work on mintmark issues. Additionally, collectors of double eagles were few-and-far-between until the 1930s, despite a few wealthy exceptions like Virgil Brand and John M. Clapp. As a result early auction appearances of the 1870-CC are almost as rare as the coins themselves. One early appearance was in lot 1313 of B. Max Mehl's sale of the William Cutler Atwater Collection, which offered a complete set of CC-mint twenties:

    "1870 First year of issue and the rarest of the series. Only 3789 specimens struck, the smallest coinage of any Double Eagle of this Mint. Very fine to extremely fine with some mint luster. Rare. Record for equal specimen well over $200.00. Not even in a recent Sale which was described as 'World's Greatest Collection of U.S. Gold Coins.' One of our very rarest Double Eagles. I consider this another 'sleeper.' In the Bell Sale a specimen of this rarity brought $240.00. This price was paid by a dealer who sold it soon after for $350.00."

    The lot realized $275, a strong price at the time. The record price realized now belongs to an AU55 NGC coin sold in an auction by Bowers and Merena in 2009 which brought $414,000.

    The present coin is an attractive AU50 specimen that shows little actual wear, although some of the stars are flat and Liberty's hair is not fully detailed. These features are softly rendered on almost all examples of the 1870-CC, due to improper centering of the planchets and spacing of the dies. Surface marks, which are also diagnostic of this issue, are relatively minor on this coin, the worst being a shallow scrape in the obverse field, below stars 5 and 6. The reverse die is rotated about 20 degrees and the strike is sharper on that side. The pleasing greenish-gold surfaces retain much original mint luster and eye appeal is quite strong for the issue. The 1870-CC is seldom offered in high grade and we have compiled a roster below showing all the coins we are aware of that grade AU or finer. This piece should fit comfortably in the lower half of the Condition Census. The 1870-CC is among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. Census: 4 in 50, 4 finer (2/15).

    Roster of High-Grade 1870-CC Double Eagles
    1. AU58 NGC. The finest-known specimen, recently discovered and shortly thereafter stolen during a Brinks transport on October 19, 2011. Unrecovered.
    2. AU55 NGC. Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 3/2009), lot 3909, realized $414,000.
    3. AU53 PCGS. Doug Winter; Nevada collection; Universal Coin and Bullion; Isaac Edmunds Collection (Bowers and Merena, 6/2002), lot 2371; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 3129, realized $368,000; Bently Collection (Heritage, 3/2014), lot 30435, realized $411,250.
    4. AU53 NGC. Denver Signature (Heritage, 8/2006), lot 5645, realized $359,375; Philadelphia ANA Sale (Stack's Bowers, 8/2012), lot 11039, realized $345,000.
    5. AU53 NGC. Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2003), lot 8296; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 5/2010), lot 1712; Chicago ANA Sale (Stack's Bowers, 8/2011), lot 7762.
    6. AU50 NGC. Dr. Jon Kardatzke Collection (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 6/2000), lot 1756, realized $120,750. The present coin.
    7. AU50 PCGS. This piece matches none of the other coins on the roster. Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 1/1985), lot 1118; private collection; Houston Signature (Heritage, 12/2014), lot 3858.
    8. AU50 PCGS. Lee Minshull and Casey Noxon; James E. Haldan Collection (Sotheby's, 6/1996), lot 146; Universal Coin & Bullion; private collection; CSNS Signature (Heritage, 4/2014), lot 5821, realized $305,500.
    9. AU50 PCGS. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5541, realized $329,000.
    10. AU50 PCGS. Classics Sale (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2004), lot 546.
    11. AU50 NGC. Richmond Collection (David Lawrence, 7/2004), lot 2288.
    12. AU50 Cleaned, Uncertified. Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 2/2008), lot 2749.
    13. AU50 Details ANACS. New York Signature (Heritage, 2/2014), lot 5418, realized $164,500.(Registry values: N14284)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26A8, PCGS# 8958)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 21
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,093

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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    We also followed the bidding online yesterday here in Salt Lake for the other 3 coins - great fun. Prices realized met or exceeded our expectations.
    Thomas M.,
    Salt Lake City, UT
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