Celebrated 1920-S Double Eagle Rarity, MS64
1920-S $20 MS64 PCGS. The 1920-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle
is one of the most important rarities of the series, and this
particular example has an illustrious pedigree in terms of
historical interest and financial success. This coin was once a
highlight of the celebrated Reed Hawn Collection, in the company of
other rarities like the 1804 dollar and the 1913 Liberty Head
The Former Reed Hawn Specimen
The 1920-S holds a unique position in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. Before the United States entered the First World War, gold twenties actually circulated in the western part of the country. Coins from that early period are more available today than many later dates, such as the 1920-S. The war brought inflation, with consequent rising prices in gold and other metals. Double eagle production in San Francisco was halted in 1916 and only resumed in 1920. A large mintage of 558,000 pieces was produced at the San Francisco Mint that year, but the commercial role of the double eagle had changed. The big gold coins no longer circulated freely. Instead, the government and banking system kept the coins in reserve.
Private ownership of gold was essentially illegal after the Gold Recall Act of 1933. Most of the government-held coins were melted into gold bars in 1937 and transported to Fort Knox. Coins used in international trade largely escaped this fate; many were found decades later in European banks. Almost all examples of the 1920-S were melted, the earliest series issue to meet such a fate.
The current population reports from NGC and PCGS reflect a combined total of 23 examples in MS64, with only eight finer. Clearly, at the near-Gem level, the date is rare.
The present coin is a dazzling Choice example. The surfaces display soft, frosted luster. Crisp strike detail appears on the olive berries, and the pillars of the Capitol building can be individually counted -- areas often soft on this issue. Few abrasions show for the grade, but a planchet void near the eagle's beak serves as a pedigree marker. The surfaces have attractive, reddish patina yielding to olive at the rim. Outstanding eye appeal, rarity, and historical importance make this a prize for the discerning collector. Population: 11 in 64, 7 finer (7/11).
Ex: Reed Hawn Collection (Stack's, 10/1993), lot 1118,uncertified, graded Choice Brilliant Uncirculated by the cataloger; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 6/2000), lot 7702; Philadelphia ANA (Heritage, 8/2000), lot 7599; Benson Part II (Goldberg, 2/2002), lot 2271; Dallas Signature (Heritage, 10/2008), lot 2486; Los Angeles ANA (Heritage, 7/2009), lot 1128; CSNS Signature (Heritage, 4/2010), lot 2352.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26FZ, PCGS# 9171)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers
The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins.
Each date and mintmark is reviewed with up-to-date information, much of which has never been previously published. The book is based on
two extraordinary collections: The Phillip H. Morse collection and the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor collection.
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