1921 Saint-Gaudens Twenty, MS62
    Second Rarest Series Issue in High Grades

    1921 $20 MS62 NGC. The 2008 second edition of the David Akers Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins, contains some surprising revelations concerning the challenging series of Saint-Gaudens double eagles. As cited previously in this auction concerning a 1920-S twenty in MS62, one of the most surprising results is that at the Gem level or finer, the 1927-D--a legendary rarity within the series, and an issue of which about a dozen are known, including some permanently off the market--is less rare than either the 1920-S and the 1921 double eagles. Of those two, the 1921 is listed as number 2 in rarity and the 1920-S as number 3, both behind only the number 1, the so-far-uncollectible 1933 double eagle. The 1927-D in Gem or finer condition is listed as number 8, also behind the 1926-D, 1925-S, 1920, and 1925-D.
    In terms of overall rarity (absolute number of survivors), of course, the tables are turned, with the 1933 first, the 1927-D second, the 1930-S third, the 1921 fourth, and the 1920-S in fifth place.
    The explanation for the 1921's elusive nature is aptly provided in the Handbook:

    "After the essentially uncollectible 1933, the 1921 is actually the rarest issue in this series in high grades, surpassing even the 1927-D. Virtually the entire mintage remained in federal holding until destroyed during the gold call in of the 1930s. More than half of the coins that have survived are circulated, and the majority of the Mint State examples grade no finer than MS-62. Coins that grade MS-63 or finer are offered only once in a very long while."

    The present MS62 specimen displays pronounced, even, reddish patina over both sides. The piece is sharply struck overall but exhibits minor weakness on Liberty's nose and the high point of the eagle's breast. Granular, mattelike surfaces show satiny mint luster. Numerous small but individually insignificant marks account for the grade. Census: 12 in 62, 8 finer (1/11).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26G2, PCGS# 9172)

    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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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2011
    3rd-6th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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    The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
    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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