Finest Known 1921 Double Eagle, Incredible MS66 Specimen1921 $20 MS66 PCGS. Ex: Crawford. After the end of The Great War, there was a general deterioration of economic conditions in the United States. This overall deterioration was evident by the spring of 1920. Programs and procedures put in place during the war had in many instances been removed or modified after the armistice, which resulted in a certain amount of economic dislocation. In particular, U.S. manufacturers had built up large inventories of goods, but the consuming public was unable to absorb them. At the same time, American exports to overseas nations dropped sharply at war's end, which deepened the plight of industry. The results of the recession were high unemployment, a broad series of business bankruptcies and generally falling wages for those Americans who kept their jobs. Most severe of all, however, was the protracted fall of farm prices--an event that would continue to a greater or lesser extent throughout the decade. Mint production reflected this general unease in 1921. Several issues throughout the various denominations were mass produced, cents and nickels from Philadelphia, for instance. Others were low mintage issues, such as the nickels, quarters, and halves from the branch mints. A relatively large number of double eagles were struck, 528,500 pieces, but judging from the number of surviving examples today 99% of the mintage was melted in the 1930s.
The 1921 is unequalled as a condition rarity in the regular Saint-Gaudens series. Its only rival is the (almost) unobtainable 1933. Probably only 40-60 mint state examples are extant today in all grades. This is the finest piece certified, and almost certainly the finest known example. The surfaces are softly frosted and virtually flawless. There are no obvious abrasions on either side that can be used as pedigree identifiers. The coloration of this coin is quite interesting. It shows a mixture of both green-gold and orange-gold in the planchet with numerous, light reddish alloy spots on each side. The striking details are uniform but not absolutely full on the highpoints--a coin that mirrors Bowers' comment that this issue has "an average strike, not needle sharp in obverse details." On this piece, the most apparent area of weakness is on the eagle's breast feathers.
It is interesting to speculate about the pedigree of this coin. All we know for certain is it came out of the Crawford Collection. However, in documents uncovered by Roger Burdette, Dr. Thomas Louis Comparette supplied assay coins to George Godard, Librarian of Connecticut and the man responsible for updating the Joseph P. Mitchelson Collection donated to the state in 1911. In a letter dated December 15, 1921, Comparette wrote: "Some  double eagles are being struck here at the mint. Do you wish one? Also some Two Colono gold pieces have been struck here for Costa Rica. They are about the size of a gold dollar. Have you secured specimens?" Godard wasted no time, replying the next day: "We [Senator Hall and Godard] both, too, desire to have specimens of the double eagles and of the two Colono gold pieces now being struck for Costa Rica." Godard's coin was sold in Auction '82 (lot 447), so we conclude (without direct evidence) that this piece was the one George Godard purchased from Dr. Comparette for Senator Hall. It is certainly the coin in Stack's March 1982 sale, lot 1471, as seen by the small copper stain to the right of the first ray on Liberty's right (facing) side, and another (more obvious) spot on the upper portion of the eagle's lower wing on the reverse.
Possibly Ex: Thomas Comparette to George Godard to Senator Hall; Stack's (3/82), lot 1471, where it brought $41,000; Crawford Collection.
From The Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage.(#9172)(Registry values: N1) (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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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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