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    Description

    1932 Saint-Gaudens Twenty Dollar, MS66+
    Finest PCGS-Certified of This Major Rarity

    1932 $20 MS66+ PCGS Secure. Ex: Duckor/Akers. The 1932 double eagle has always garnered collector interest as the last collectible date in the Saint-Gaudens series. It is a notable rarity among the late-date twenties, but its perception has changed slightly over the years. In David Akers' auction survey of the denomination published in 1982 he stated, "the 1932 is definitely not as rare as the 1930-S or 1931-D and it is really no more rare than the 1931." Twenty-six years later, assessment of the 1932 had changed to "rarer than the 1929 and 1931-D from an overall standpoint." The change in rarity of the 1932 relative to the 1931-D stems from the appearance in 1984 of a small hoard of the 1931-D, rather than an increase in the availability of the 1932. Confusion about the relative rarity of the five late-date Saints is undoubtedly due to the infrequency with which they are offered, in addition to the misleading mintages -- almost all of which were melted.
    The 1931 and 1932 twenties were the first of the major rarities from the Saint-Gaudens series to appear in public auction. They were almost always offered together in the late 1930s and early 1940s (as discussed in the write-up for the 1931), and the 1932 consistently realized more than the 1931. The first time these pieces were offered at public auction was in Thomas Elder's Needham, Herrick and Other Collections (9/1937), where Elder said of the 1932: "Of greatest rarity. None struck for circulation. Value $350." The quote "None struck for circulation" is somewhat misleading to today's collectors, but it was clarified by the always-quotable B. Max Mehl in the Belden Roach auction held in 1944: "As rare as the 1931, none of which were placed in general circulation and only a limited number in the hands of collectors."
    The high prices these dates brought at auction, especially the 1932, was not because the actual number of coins released was known -- that information was unavailable until 1947. The stronger price for the 1932 was undoubtedly based on its mintage, which was less than half the 1931 (1.1 million vs. 2.9 million). Today we know how many coins were released by the Mint, in addition to the somewhat inexact, but suggestive number of coins certified by the major services. Dr. Charles W. Green's letter to Louis Eliasberg in February 1947 related, "But the 1931 and 1932 double eagles have good reason for their scarcity for of the 1931 Philadelphia only 45 were put out, and of the 1932 Philadelphia only 110 were issued." With a total of 140 certification events for the 1932 by both of the major services, it would appear that few additional coins were sold by the Mint as Green's number of 110 issued is close to the estimate of 75-95 coins in all grades, as Akers estimated.
    In the case of high-grade rarity (MS65 and finer), the 1932 has a definite edge over the 1931. According to Garrett and Guth, the example in the Smithsonian would probably grade MS67, qualifying it as the finest known. The Duckor example is the finest PCGS-certified coin and the only MS66+ (10/11). Among the finest 1932 twenties sold in recent years, several have achieved impressive prices realized. The MS66 Morse coin, sold in Heritage's November, 2005 Signature, brought an astounding $161,000 and remains the recordholder for this rare late-date Saint. The Richmond/Kutasi MS66 coin, sold in our 2010 FUN Signature, was hammered down at $138,000.
    The 1932 is known as a well-produced date in the series. Most examples are frosted, and a few have a satiny finish. Strike and abrasions are seldom a problem when this issue is found. The surfaces on the present Duckor MS66+ example display thick mint frost, and each side has subtle accents of reddish-gold and lilac. There are no distracting marks on either side, as one would expect from a coin in such a superior state of preservation.
    Ex: David Akers (Paramount) private treaty sale, $27,000.

    David Akers Comments:
    Although there is one 1933 that is now considered "collectible," the Farouk specimen which sold in 2002 for $7.59 million, the highest price ever realized by any coin at public auction, the other 12 known examples are in the (permanent?) possession of the U.S. government. So, for all practical purposes, the 1932 is the final available issue of the Saint-Gaudens series. The mintage was over a million pieces but virtually the entire number minted was melted within a few years of being struck. No U.S. gold coins at this time (and for years previously) were being struck to be used for circulation or general public commerce and virtually the entire mintage of the 1932 was simply stored in government vaults and then melted shortly thereafter. However, some were obtained at the mint in the year of issue and changed hands among dealers and collectors often enough in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s that dealers did not see the 1932 as a top tier rarity in the series when they began to really think seriously about such things for the first time in the mid- to late 1940s. It was considered to be about the same rarity as the 1929 and 1931 and also the 1920-S, 1922-S, 1924-D, and 1925-S. Most of the major auction sales of that era had a 1932 and the issue was consistently valued only in the $200-$250 range. As the years went by, many of the issues that were previously thought to be rare were discovered in hoards in Europe and later Central America, but not the 1932 and so the perceived rarity of the 1932 in comparison to other issues went up considerably. Now, it is the third rarest regular issue date in the entire series after the 1927-D and 1930-S when only the total known population is considered. In terms of only the five late dates, it is considered the second most rare after the 1930-S but perhaps the most "common" of the five in gem MS65 and superb MS66 condition although the 1931 is similarly rare at both those grade levels. There are probably 30-40 gems known and an additional 10 or so superb MS66 specimens. Strike and especially luster, color and overall eye appeal are nearly always first rate for examples of the 1932, possibly the best overall for any of the rare dates in the entire series. But even by the high standards for the issue, the Duckor specimen offered here really stands out, undoubtedly the reason why this specimen is the single highest graded 1932 at MS66+. When I purchased the Amon Carter 1932 double eagle for Dr. Thaine Price in 1984 I considered it to be the finest and most beautiful example I had seen and it subsequently was graded MS66 by PCGS after Dr. Price's collection was sold at auction in 1998. However, when dealer Kevin Lipton showed this coin to me later in 1984, I purchased it for Dr. Duckor immediately because I felt it was every bit as beautiful as the Price coin and even slightly finer overall and the (+) designation to the MS66 grade of the Duckor coin would seem to bear that out. Almost three decades later after seeing numerous other 1932 double eagles and handling many of them, I still consider these two the best I have seen.
    From The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection.
    Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.(Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26GR, PCGS# 9194)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [Additional Selections from The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2012
    4th-8th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,776

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse and Steven Duckor Collections
    Revised Edition by Roger Burdette, and edited by James L. Halperin and Mark Van Winkle

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles is an issue-by-issue examination of this 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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