An 1870-CC Coronet gold $20 double eagle that has not been publicly
seen since it was purchased at auction 50 years ago is returning to
the auction block.
The coin, one of 3,789 struck at the Carson City Mint and among
fewer than 50 examples known extant, is part of the estate of Reno,
Nev., casino mogul Charles Mapes and his wife, Hellen. The 1870-CC
Coronet double eagle is considered to be the rarest of all gold
coinage struck at the Carson City Mint from 1870 through 1893.
The Mapes coin is consigned to a Sept. 4 Bonhams &
Butterfields auction in Los Angeles.
According to Paul Song, director of Bonhams & Butterfields
Rare Coins and Bank Notes Department, the 1870-CC double eagle has
been in the Mapes Collection since it was purchased in the Feb. 16 to
18, 1961, public auction in New York City conducted by Abner Kreisberg
from Beverly Hills, Calif., and Hans M.F. Schulman from New York City.
The coin was estimated in the 1961 auction catalog at $4,500, but
sold for $4,200. Bonhams & Butterfields “conservatively” estimates
the coin will sell Sept. 4 for $150,000 to $180,000.
The coin was described in the 1961 Kreisberg/Schulman auction
catalog as “strictly very fine.” The Mapes coin is currently not
certified by a third-party grading service, nor will it be for the
auction, Song said. The auction catalog will list the coin’s grade as
“Extremely Fine,” he said.
Song said the coin was housed in a Capital Plastics holder and its
rarity was unknown to the consignor when brought to the auction house
Song said the consignor believed the coin to be a Philadelphia
Mint strike, of which 155,150 were struck, and worth $1,500 to $2,000
in the same condition as the 1870-CC coin to be offered.
As of June 14, Professional Coin Grading Service has handled 28
submissions of the 1870-CC double eagle, with the PCGS Population
Report listing submissions from a single Fine 15 coin up to a single
About Uncirculated 53 example. Most of the submissions graded
Extremely Fine 40 to AU-50.
The PCGS Population Report estimated 35 to 45 examples known.
Numismatic Guaranty Corp.’s NGC Census Report as of June 14
identifies 28 submissions to that firm, from a single Fine 15 example
to the highest-graded piece, a single About Uncirculated 55 coin. Most
of the pieces graded are in Very Fine 20 to AU-53 condition. ■