1921 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, MS63+
1921 $20 MS63+ PCGS. Ex: Fox. The country experienced an
economic recession after World War I and commercial demand for
coinage was still low in 1921. Most of the Mint's resources were
devoted to coining huge numbers of silver dollars that year (of
both Morgan and Peace design), the first coins of that denomination
struck since 1904. However, late in the year, the Philadelphia Mint
struck a relatively modest mintage of 528,500 Saint-Gaudens double
eagles, the only gold coins struck at any U.S. Mint that year. The
coins were all delivered in November (90,000 pieces) and December
(438,500 pieces), by which time most collectors had concluded there
would be no gold coinage in 1921. The double eagles were
specifically intended as currency reserves and none were released
into circulation in the year of issue. Even T.L. Comparette, the
Curator of the Mint Cabinet, only secured some examples for George
Godard, his counterpart at the Connecticut State Library, the
following January. Research by Roger W. Burdette indicates only 332
examples (or possibly 582 pieces, if the extra pyx coins were not
bagged and stored) were available to the Philadelphia Mint Cashier
after assay returns. The rest of the mintage was stored in Mint or
Treasury vaults until the Gold Recall of 1933, and subsequently
Prime Condition Rarity in High Grade
Only Eight Finer Pieces Certified
Probably 25 of the coins held by the cashier were sent to the Treasurer for potential sale to collectors. Some of the cashier's coins were undoubtedly spent in regular business transactions, as about half of the coins we know about today are in circulated grades. PCGS and NGC have combined to certify 176 coins in all grades, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (8/19). PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at about 150 examples, while Roger Burdette believes possibly 175 specimens are extant. Only a few really high quality specimens were preserved by contemporary collectors, as only eight coins have been certified in MS64, or better (8/19). Three coins are included in institutional collections at the Smithsonian Institution, American Numismatic Society, and the Connecticut State Library.
The present coin is a Plus-graded Select specimen, with sharply detailed design elements that show none of the usual softness on the eagle's upper wings and breast feathers. The vivid orange-gold surfaces display a few hints of lilac, with vibrant mint luster on both sides. The few grade-consistent contact marks are not bothersome and the short scratch under Liberty's wreath arm serves as a good pedigree marker. Overall visual appeal is outstanding for this classic series rarity. This coin will be a welcome addition to the finest collection or Registry Set. Population: 11 in 63 (2 in 63+), 7 finer (8/19).
Ex: Pre-Long Beach Auction (Ira & Larry Goldberg, 2/2007), lot 2728, as MS63 PCGS, realized $218,500, Rollo Fox Collection.
David Akers (2012) Comments:
The standing of the 1921 in the overall hierarchy of Saint-Gaudens double eagle rarities has changed less over the last seven decades than any other regular issue in the series. During that time, some issues have dropped precipitously from their place at the top (1924-S and 1926-S for example) and others have risen substantially (1920-S, 1930-S and especially 1927-D) but the 1921 has always been recognized as being among the top four rarities of the series, both 70 years ago and today, at least with respect to value. The only thing that has changed is the other three coins with it at the top. The 1921 is now considered to be the second most valuable regular issue Saint-Gaudens double eagle, surpassed only by the 1927-D whose extreme rarity was not recognized fully until the 1950s, at least in comparison to other issues in the series. Judged solely on its population rarity, meaning the total number of specimens known in all grades, the 1921 is certainly rare, but not exceptionally so, comparable overall to the 1920-S, but actually less rare than the 1930-S and 1932. However, as a condition rarity it is the unrivaled "Queen" of the Saint-Gaudens series because the condition at which it becomes extremely rare and valuable is lower than for any other issue. Of course, every Saint is a condition rarity at a certain level. For example, any issue is (or would be if one existed) a great rarity in MS68 or 69. For some issues MS67 is the rarity point, for others it is MS65 or MS66. But no issue, not even the 1927-D, is as difficult to locate in MS64 or higher grades as the 1921. Only four or possibly five specimens are known in the MS65 and MS66 grades combined with nothing finer. Even in the MS63 and 64 grades, the 1921 is a major rarity with no more than 12-15 examples known of those two grades combined.
From The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold. (Registry values: N10218)
Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26G2, PCGS# 9172)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
View all of [The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold ]
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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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