1927-D Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle MS66
1927-D $20 MS66 PCGS. Heritage is excited and privileged to
offer an example of the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens double eagle, the most
elusive regular-issue U.S. coin of the 20th century. This specimen
is certified MS66 by PCGS, one of five so graded. PCGS has graded
eight pieces from MS63 to a single MS67, placing this coin in a tie
for second-finest and comfortably at the high end of the Condition
Census (11/09). Of the 13 total coins certified at both services,
four or five likely represent duplications or crossovers from one
service to the other. Based on the detailed pedigree research and
previously unpublished photos that we present below, we can
document a maximum of 13 specimens today, of which only nine coins
(and possibly as few as seven) are publicly held and available--at
least theoretically--in the numismatic marketplace. The Smithsonian
Institution possesses three examples that are presumed off the
market forever; another has reposed in the Connecticut State
Library's Museum of Connecticut History since its acquisition
directly from the Denver Mint in 1927.
The King of Regular Issue 20th-Century Coins
Only Nine Examples Publicly Available Out of 13 Known
The King of 20th-Century Regular Issues
The 1927-D double eagle has earned a longstanding and well-deserved reputation as the rarest regular-issue U.S. coin--gold or otherwise--of the 20th century, although it was the late 1940s-early 1950s before that perception was generally acknowledged. Examples of the 1927-D double eagles have been responsible for many record-shattering performances in the decades after they first appeared in the numismatic spotlight during the 1940s, in the process gaining recognition as legendary rarities and dethroning numerous other issues. Heritage has been privileged to offer three different examples at auction over the past 15 years. The MS67 PCGS specimen from the Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage brought $1,897,500 when we offered it in our Dallas Signature Auction (11/2005, lot 6697). A couple of years ago, that price was the fourth all-time highest paid for a U.S. coin at public auction, behind the famous 1933 Saint-Gaudens twenty, the Childs 1804 Original silver dollar, and a 1907 Ultra High Relief, Lettered Edge double eagle, PR69 PCGS, also from the Morse Collection.
The price paid for the Morse 1927-D still holds the number 7 spot of the Top 250 Coin Prices as recorded in the current (2010) Guide Book; the crucial distinction between the two rankings is "U.S. coins," since the two 1787 Brasher doubloons in the Guide Book, numbers 4 and 6, are technically not U.S. coins but pre-Federal issues. (Omitting those coins, the Morse 1927-D would rank number 5 in the Guide Book.) The appearance of the Queller Collection 1804 Original silver dollar, which we handled in our Central States Signature Auction (4/2008, lot 2089), also bumped the Morse Collection 1927-D down a notch. Still, the price paid for the Morse Collection 1927-D remains the sixth-highest price ever attained in a Heritage auction.
A Gem 1927-D certified by NGC, from The Delbert McDougal Set of $20 Saint-Gaudens Coins, brought another record price of $1,322,500 in our FUN Signature Auction (1/2006, lot 3624). That coin holds the current number 22 all-time price record in the 2010 Guide Book (tied with numbers 21 and 23).
Physical Description of This Specimen
MS66 PCGS. The surfaces display thick mint frost throughout. The centers are bright yellow-gold while the margins are more deeply colored, with a noticeable accent of lilac. The striking details are fully brought up in all areas. This example is most immediately identifiable on the obverse by an alloy spot in the left field and a couple of short contact marks across both of Liberty's legs. A short mark below the EN of TWENTY appears in the upper reverse field, and a couple of small ticks on OD W in the motto.
David Akers' 20th century gold coin Handbook notes that most, but not all, known specimens of the 1927-D were struck from a single pair of dies, although four die pairs are recorded. Akers describes the obverse die cracks to include one "thin, spindly die crack [that] joins star to star through the top of the letter L in LIBERTY," and another that "begins at the base of the letter L in LIBERTY and runs through the adjacent letter I before terminating at the torch in Liberty's left (facing) hand." On the reverse "a thin, nearly vertical die crack bisects the eagle's beak."
On the present coin, a short star-to-star die crack passes through the top of the L in LIBERTY; another longer crack passes from the bottom of the L through the top of the torch and to the B. On the reverse a long, near-vertical crack passes through the eagle's beak, and a very short die crack runs from above the eagle's eye across the adjoining ray. As on most examples, a crack runs through the last A of AMERICA, through a tail feather, and out into the field, although on this piece the crack also runs through the C preceding.
An Unprecedented Opportunity
The present 1927-D double eagle marks an unprecedented opportunity to acquire the rarest regular-issue coin made in at least the past 100 years. It is also an opportunity that is fleeting, as during the past 30 years or so an example of the 1927-D appears at auction on average about once every two years. The high grade of the current Premium Gem example makes this opportunity even more important, as it is tied for second finest with numerous other examples (including what are clearly duplications) and surpassed in grade only by the ex: Morse specimen.
Registry Set Collectors Note
The ownership of any 1927-D double eagle is one of those marks of rare accomplishment that turns a memorable collection into a world-class one. As of this writing there are eight current NGC and 12 PCGS Saint-Gaudens Registry Sets with a completion of 80%, for a total of 20 Registry Sets at both services combined. As amazing as it may seem, every one of those current sets is lacking an example of the 1927-D.
NGC Census: 1 in AU58, 1 in MS65, 3 in MS66.
PCGS Population: 1 in MS63, 1 in MS65, 5 in MS66, 1 in MS67 (11/09).
For a roster and more detailed history of the 1927-D double eagle, click here.
From The Ralph P. Muller Collection.(Registry values: N25858) (NGC ID# 26GH, PCGS# 9187)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
View all of [The Ralph P. Muller Collection ]
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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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