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    1870-CC Liberty Double Eagle, AU50
    First-Year Carson City Issue
    Rarest CC-Mint Twenty

    1870-CC $20 AU50 NGC. Variety 1-A. The Carson City Mint opened for coinage operations in 1870 and a tiny production of 3,789 Liberty double eagles was accomplished, the smallest twenty dollar mintage of the series. There was little numismatic interest in double eagles in general in 1870, as forming an extensive date run of twenty dollar coins was prohibitively expensive for the average collector. The wealthy numismatists who could afford to collect large denomination gold coins preferred to update their collections by purchasing proofs from the Philadelphia Mint every year and there was virtually no interest in saving branch mint issues before Augustus Heaton published his seminal treatise on mintmarks in 1893. The 1870-CC double eagles were released into circulation at the time of issue and suffered extensive wear and attrition over the years. Apparently, no high-quality examples were saved by contemporary collectors and the issue is unknown in Mint State grades today. U.S. gold specialist Doug Winter considers the 1870-CC the rarest and most famous double eagle from the Carson City Mint.

    The rarity of the 1870-CC was recognized at an early date and examples began appearing in B. Max Mehl's auctions in the early 20th century (see, for example, Charles W. Cowell Collection, 11/1911, lot 669 and B.W. Smith Collection, 5/1915, lot 25). By the time he sold the Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), the 1870-CC was bringing high prices. Mehl described the coin in lot 1313 as:

    "1870. First year of issue and the rarest of the series. Only 3,789 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. The price was paid by a dealer who sold it soon after for $350.00."

    Mehl was undoubtedly very pleased with the lot, which brought a strong price of $275. Of course, collector demand has steadily increased over the years and prices realized have skyrocketed accordingly. Recent sales include the AU50 NGC example in lot 5645 of the Denver Signature (Heritage, 8/2006), that realized $359,375.

    The present coin is an impressive About Uncirculated specimen, with vivid orange-gold surfaces that show the grade-consistent abrasions and chatter in the fields always seen on this issue. An arcing scratch through some of the lower left stars on the obverse acts as a pedigree marker. This coin exhibits only light wear on the well-detailed design elements and, as usual, the reverse is slightly sharper than the obverse, which displays some flatness on the stars. Surprisingly vibrant mint luster still radiates from both sides and the overall presentation is most attractive. PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at 40-50 examples in all grades. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called. Listed among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins. Census: 5 in 50, 3 finer (6/20).(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
    August, 2020
    3rd-9th Monday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,804

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