1927-S Saint-Gaudens Twenty, MS67
1927-S $20 MS67 PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Morse/Duckor. Like
many other issues in the Saint-Gaudens series from the 1920s and
1930s, the 1927-S had a substantial mintage. In this case, 3.1
million pieces were produced in the San Francisco Mint in this
year. However, almost the entire mintage was melted in the 1930s.
In the 1940s, the 1927-S was considered the fourth-scarcest issue
in the series, thought to be even more elusive than the 1927-D.
From the original mintage, only 3,750 1927-S twenties were released
through official channels, according to Dr. Charles W. Green.
Dealers in the 1930s and 1940s appear to have had a good grasp of
the numbers available of Saint-Gaudens twenties on the market at
that time. What they could not know, however, were the numbers of
coins that had been exported to Europe and South America.
The Only PCGS-Certified Coin at This Level
During the 10-year period we surveyed between 1935 and 1944, the 1927-S twenty only appeared in two of the 152 auctions examined. This extreme rarity in public auctions at the time underscores B. Max Mehl's (curiously worded) assertion in 1949: "I believe there are no fewer than three or four specimens known." Like the 1931 and 1932 twenties, the lowest price for the 1927-S during those early years was in Morgenthau's New York Collection in May 1939, where an example went begging at $67. By 1944 the coin in the Bell sale brought $500 with a $125 catalog value. By the time of the Bell sale, all of the great rarities in the Saint-Gaudens series had turned up in public auction at least once. Two years later, the World's Greatest Collection 1927-S realized $925 with a catalog value of $175. Then, after World War II, coins began to surface in the bullion and numismatic holdings of European banks. When most issues began to turn up, some in large numbers, former extreme rarities were downgraded to merely scarce in a few short years. In the 1950s one or two pieces at a time of the 1927-S began to show up in European gold holdings. But, unlike the 1922-S and 1926-S, it never appeared in quantity, and its rarity status has remained constant through the years.
Of the 172 pieces seen by both major services, 76 coins are in circulated grades from XF40 to AU58 (most in the latter grade), proving the 1927-S was publicly released, at least in small numbers, at the time of issue. However, the 1927-S is best known as an absolute rarity with perhaps only 120-140 individual coins surviving in mint condition. Of the Uncirculated coins known most are lower-end examples, seldom seen above MS62. At the upper end of Uncirculated, there is a small but important group of outstanding coins, perhaps as many as 14 to 16 pieces that grade MS65 to MS67. At the MS67 level there are three pieces, but the Duckor specimen is the only PCGS-certified coin (6/12). Garrett and Guth state that the Smithsonian example would grade MS67, but of course that Superb Gem is unavailable to collectors.
As with almost all 1927-S twenties, the visual focus of the present Duckor example is its bright, thick mint frost. Some are known with a satiny texture, but those are in the minority. The luster is even, light reddish-gold with the most notable variation being a single alloy spot in the right obverse field, a common trait on 1927-S twenties. The upper reverse also displays a subtle accent of lilac patina intermixed with the otherwise even reddish-gold. The strike details are strong to full on each side, and there is little evidence of the often-seen beveling on the rims, although slight irregularity is noted on the reverse. Abrasions are almost nonexistent, but for the sake of pedigree identifiers we will repeat those that have been named in previous auction appearances. A tiny mark occurs on the eighth ray on the obverse (counting from left to right), and a slightly curved scrape (most likely of Mint origin) is noted on the sun on the lower reverse that runs parallel to the edge. The extraordinary condition of this 1927-S is undoubtedly due to its unbroken pedigree since 1927. Since it was sold from the holdings of the Museum of Connecticut History in 1995, there have only been three owners: Phillip Morse, Dr. Steven Duckor, and the present consignor. A 1927-S twenty is always a focal point of any offering of Saint-Gaudens twenties. This is the finest coin known, one that has resided in two of the finest sets of this series ever assembled.
Ex: Treasurer of the U.S.; George Godard; Museum of Connecticut History (Heritage, 6/1995), lot 6027; Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 6698; Duckor Collection / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 4645, which realized $276,000.(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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