Key 1927-S Saint-Gaudens Twenty, MS66
1927-S $20 MS66 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Brahin. Like all of the
mintmarked issues from the late 1920s, the 1927-S Saint-Gaudens
double eagle is a key date in the series. The large mintage of 3.1
million pieces was almost totally destroyed after the Gold Recall
of 1933, and only a small number of examples surfaced in European
holdings in the 1950s. In A Handbook of 20th Century United
States Gold Coins 1907-1933, David Akers reports:
Only 3,750 Examples Released
"Five decades ago, the 1927-S was considered to be the fourth-rarest issue in the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle series after the 1924-S, 1926-D and 1926-S. Even the 1920-S, 1921 and, yes, the 1927-D were thought to be more plentiful than the 1927-S. This all changed in the late 1950s when individual examples began to show up in shipments of U.S. gold coins from Europe. By the end of the 20th century between 100 and 200 pieces had arrived, although at no time was there ever a hoard of this issue. Typically grading MS-60 to MS-64, the 1927-S is particularly rare as a Gem and all but unknown any finer than MS-66."
Akers was particularly well qualified to comment on the small presence of the 1927-S in European hoards. As a principal of the Paramount International Coin Company, he was privy to many records of transactions between Jim Kelly and Paul Wittlin, who was the main conduit for bringing European holdings to the U.S. coin market. In Price List 8 (Paramount,1974), Akers made the following observations about the 1927-S:
"This is the first example of this rare date that we have owned in several years and even when we were regularly receiving shipments of rare double eagles from our European buyer Paul Wittlin, the 1927-S was conspicuous by its absence although in such shipments we received as many as six 1921's at one time or two 1870-CC's, or half a dozen 1891's! Of course, the days of such shipments are far behind us and will never be repeated again, but the fact remains that even in those bountiful days the 1927-S was seldom sent to us and this is a strong indicator of the coin's rarity."
Akers currently ranks the 1927-S as the 9th rarest issue of the 53 coin collectible series, with a surviving population of 120-140 examples in Mint State grades. NGC has certified four coins in MS66, with two finer; while PCGS has graded only two examples at the Premium Gem level, with one finer (10/09).
In the waning days of the Great Depression, with most forms of gold bullion deemed illegal for U.S. citizens to own, a few astute numismatists realized collecting large denomination gold coins was a viable opportunity to invest in the precious metal. Saint-Gaudens double eagles began to appear in numismatic auctions in the late 1930s, even though many of the coins were less than 10 years old. One early appearance of the 1927-S was in Sale Number 399 (Morgenthau, 5/1939), lot 554, "1927 S Extremely fine and scarce." The lot realized $67, a strong price for that era.
In the 1940s, collecting twenty dollar gold coins became widespread for the first time. Collectors such as Louis Eliasberg and Dr. Charles W. Green formed important collections of double eagles during the decade, and much attention was focused on the denomination. Regarding the 1927-S, Green's research in Mint Records revealed the startling fact that only 3,750 specimens of the date were actually released by the San Francisco Mint before the Recall. Apparently, more than 3 million examples of the issue were melted and stored as ingots in Fort Knox. The effective mintage of the 1927-S is the minuscule total of coins actually released, and this explains its rarity today.
The presently-offered Premium Gem displays peach-gold patina that is accompanied on the obverse by tinges of light tan, and on the reverse by subtle yellow-green undertones and occasional splashes of reddish color. Attractive luster radiates from both faces, and the motifs are well impressed. The Capitol building, which is typically weak on this issue, exhibits nice detail in most of the panes. Liberty's facial features, the fingers on both hands, the toes, and the eagle's plumage are all sharp. A solitary light copper spot in the lower left obverse field and a small mark in the middle of Liberty's outstretched left arm may help pedigree this rarity. The present coin is listed as the number three specimen in David Akers' census of Significant Examples.
Ex: Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 7/2002), lot 931.
From The Jay Brahin Collection.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 26GJ, PCGS# 9188)
View all of [The Jay Brahin 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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