Magnificent 1927-S Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, MS661927-S $20 MS66 NGC. In today's market, the 1927-S double eagle is somewhat overshadowed by its close cousin, the 1927-D. While the present coin cannot equal the rarity of the Denver issue, it is still an acknowledged key to the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. Moreover, unlike the 1927-D, most examples of the current issue are seen in circulated or lower Mint State grades. In higher Mint State grades, this date is quite rare. NGC and PCGS, for example, have certified a total of six 1927-S examples in MS66, and a mere three coins grade finer (9/08). Indeed, only four specimens grading MS66 have made auction appearances at major sales in the past ten or so years, indicating that some of the submission events may be duplicates.
Fifty years ago the situation was reversed. In that era, the 1927-S was believed to be a fantastic rarity, considerably more desirable than its Denver counterpart. In 1949, B. Max Mehl believed that there were only three or four specimens known. The coin was generally regarded as the fourth rarest of the design type, behind the 1924-S, 1926-D, and 1926-S. All of these vaunted issues gradually became more available as individual examples were repatriated from European bank holdings in the 1950s and 1960s. The 1927-S never surfaced in hoard quantities (unlike the 1926-S, for example), and its decline in the rarity rankings has been gradual. In recent times, David Akers ranks it as the tenth rarest issue in the 55-coin series. Of course, not one single example of the 1927-D issue is believed to have surfaced from these sources, and it holds the pre-eminent spot in the rarity estimates today. Probably only 160-170 specimens of the 1927-S double eagle survive today, with approximately two thirds of the total being circulated or lower Mint State grades.
One of the earliest auction appearances of the 1927-S was in the J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 990, where it realized a price of $500 on a $300 estimate. Two years later, an example appeared in the World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 1043. Abe Kosoff showcased the coin in that sale, and it realized $925, a respectable sum for the time. The 1927-S was so rare in its heyday that even legendary collectors such as Louis Eliasberg and John Jay Pittman settled for AU graded specimens in their collections. Some notable auction appearances in recent times are listed below. An NGC graded MS67 coin from the Museum of Connecticut History was sold in the Long Beach sale (Heritage, 6/1995), lot 6027. This piece later appeared in the celebrated sale of the Phillip Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 6698. The presently offered coin also appeared in the Morse sale, as lot 6699. Another spectacular specimen was cataloged in the Thaine B. Price sale (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 116. In that offering, Akers described the piece as being "absolutely fully struck." A Very Choice Brilliant Uncirculated specimen was offered in the Jeff Browning sale (Sotheby's/Stack's, 10/2001), lot 207. Finally, an NGC-graded MS66 coin was sold in the Pre-Long Beach sale (Superior 2/2002), lot 1379.
The currently offered coin possesses a wonderful mix of apricot and yellow-gold patination, and exhibits vibrant luster. The design elements are exceptionally well struck, with the Capitol showing excellent definition. It is devoid of significant marks, save for an inoffensive shallow linear abrasion on Liberty's chest. Interestingly though, a slightly curved mint-made "scrape" is noted on the sun. As it runs parallel to the rim, the feature is probably some sort of mint-made flaw, possibly having to do with ejection from the die. The same feature appeared on the Superb Gem coin in lot 6698 of the Phillip Morse Collection mentioned above. This circumstance leads us to believe that these two coins were struck from the same reverse die within a relatively short period of time. An interesting coincidence, since both coins were later discovered in the same collection. This is a magnificent specimen that is sure to generate spirited bidding. Census: 4 in 66, 2 finer (9/08). (Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 26GJ, PCGS# 9188)
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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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