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    Description

    1852/1 Humbert 'Double Eagle,' K-9, MS64
    Finest Certified, Guide Book Plate Coin
    Ex: Eliasberg/Riverboat Collections

    1852/1 $20 Humbert Twenty Dollar, K-9, R.6, MS64 NGC. Ex: Eliasberg. 884 THOUS., as are all of the overdated 1852/1 Humbert twenty dollar coins. The U.S. Assay Office of Gold was established via congressional act in September 1850 under the auspices of Moffat & Co.; Augustus Humbert, who arrived in California in January 1851, was appointed chief assayer. This small issue, amounting to only 7,500 pieces, was reportedly struck all in a single day sometime between March 5 and April 2, 1852, according to both Breen and Kagin. Later 1852-dated (nonoverdate) twenty dollar gold pieces would be issued, but bearing the U.S. ASSAY OFFICE OF GOLD imprint rather than AUGUSTUS HUMBERT on the reverse.

    These overdated 1852/1 twenty dollar coins and their companion 1852/1 ten dollar gold pieces were struck from dies that had been originally prepared in 1851, in anticipation of U.S. Treasury Secretary Thomas Corwin granting permission for Moffat & Co. and the official U.S. assayer of gold to strike coins in denominations smaller than fifty dollars. That permission was given in December 1851 and then lifted the very next day. An emergency issue of ten dollar gold pieces was struck in early 1852 with the Moffat brand, and in February 1852 the authorization was again given; the 1851 dies were overdated 1852/1, and ten and twenty dollar coins were struck that bore the Humbert-Assay Office identification.

    Most examples of the 1852/1 Humbert twenty dollar gold coin, including the present finest-known piece certified MS64 NGC, show a die crack joining many of the peripheral letters. This coin shows the crack extending all the way around the obverse periphery, with the sole exception of DOLS. The bright yellow-gold surfaces are quite reflective and prooflike, boldly struck, and simply distraction-free. A loupe reveals die polishing lines evident on each side, which, along with the near-pristine preservation, makes us wonder if this piece would have passed as a special presentation or specimen strike in early Gold Rush California. There is no conclusive evidence one way or the other, but in any case the exceptional surface quality makes this example stand out from the small surviving population. This piece is equally remarkable as the Guide Book Plate Coin.

    The R.6 rarity rating of these seldom-seen "Humbert double eagle" pieces is possibly understated. Trades of this issue in any grade are infrequent; in fact, except for the Eliasberg coin at hand, we can find only two auctions in Mint State for the issue in the last two decades, at Heritage or elsewhere. Both of those appearances featured the second finest known example, an MS61 piece, also from the fabulous Riverboat Collection. The certified populations at both NGC and PCGS, particularly in Mint State, seem quite inflated. Listed on page 397 of the 2018 Guide Book. Census: 1 in 64 (the present specimen), 0 finer (10/17).
    Ex: Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/1996), lot 345, where it was conservatively graded as "MS-60, prooflike, one of the finest known" (raw), realizing $31,900; Riverboat Collection Signature (Heritage, 4/2014), lot 5423, where it brought $211,500. (NGC ID# ANGH, PCGS# 10193)


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-8th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,670

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