US Coins

1870-CC double eagle brings $1.62 million in Heritage sale

Collectors continue to appreciate rare Carson City Mint gold coins, as seen at Heritage on Nov. 11, where an 1870-CC Coronet gold $20 double eagle sold for $1.62 million. The price set a record for the issue and represented a strong improvement compared to the coin’s last time across the auction block in 2014, when it sold for $411,250.

Heritage said of the 2021 result, “In fact, even before the live auction began Thursday night, the world record had been set by spirited pre-bidding — proof that this coin, graded About Uncirculated 53 to make it the finest certified at Professional Coin Grading Service, had drawn the attention of collectors eager to add this classic Old West rarity to their assemblages.”

Sharp-eyed collectors should keep an eye out for the finest-graded example, certified AU-58 by Numismatic Guaranty Co., that was “mysteriously stolen from a Brinks truck and never available at public auction,” Heritage noted, adding, “That tragedy makes this one a huge coup for the bidder who managed to hit the bull’s-eye Thursday night.”

The record-setting double eagle was part of the Prestwick Collection of Carson City Mint coins, the name coming from the “owner’s appreciation of things unique in their respective fields — Scotland’s Prestwick Golf Club, with its legendary place in the annals of golf, and the legacy of Carson City coinage within the numismatic Field,” Heritage wrote, adding, “Our consignor has enjoyed many wonderful outings at Prestwick and has greatly enjoyed his time collecting these distinguished coins from the legendary Nevada Mint.”

Heritage added, “This piece is also weakly defined overall, but not any more so than other Type Two twenties, issues such as the 1869-S and 1870-S come to mind as coins that are almost never found with anything more than a mediocre strike. The surfaces have rich orange-gold coloration with faint traces of reflectivity still in evidence around the devices. As with all ‘70-CC twenties we have seen, this piece is liberally abraded. However, it lacks the numerous heavy marks that are often seen. In fact, the distinctive abrasions that are present can be listed and used as pedigree identifiers, which can also be seen in the plate used in the Winter / Cutler reference (page 147): an angling mark is located in the left obverse field out from Liberty’s chin, a series of abrasions are clustered between and around stars 12 and 13, and on the reverse there is a long cut on the lower rim just below the NT in TWENTY.”

The 1870-CC Coronet double eagle has a reported mintage of just 3,789 coins, of which, Heritage estimates, perhaps 35 to 45 survive today, most in well-worn grades. No Mint State examples are known from the issue struck in the first year of the “CC” Mint, and even the deepest-pocketed collectors like Louis Eliasberg and Harry Bass had to settle for Extremely Fine representatives. In his latest book on Carson City coins Rusty Goe called the issue “The Queen of Carson City gold coins,” writing, “From its humble beginning it seemed to attain majestic eminence.” Goe advised collectors to consider three points when seeking to acquire an example of the “Queen”: first, only a few relatively attractive examples exist; second, collectors must be prepared to pay a hefty premium; and third, more examples exist than past estimates have suggested, with Goe believing that 55 to 65 exist in all grades.

As Goe accurately predicted last year in volume 1 of The Complete Carson City Coin Collector, “Where prices will go in the future is uncertain. One thing is guaranteed, however — condition rarities will lead the way.”

Both $20s at $144,000

Two other condition rarities from the famed Nevada mint each brought $144,000 at the sale. An 1872-CC Coronet double eagle graded Mint State 61 by NGC had fewer marks than typically seen. Heritage wrote, “The yellow-gold surfaces of this MS-61 piece are imbued with hints of light green and display ample luster that is disturbed only slightly by distributed light marks.”

The cataloger observed, “A small alloy spot above the eagle’s beak does not distract and is a useful identification marker.”

Goe suggests a Mint State population of 11 to 13 coins from an original mintage of 26,900.

Heritage referenced the grade range seen for the coin: “Nearly all surviving examples are in Very Fine to About Uncirculated levels of preservation. The population data for the various AU grades, however, appear to be greatly inflated by resubmissions. Uncirculated specimens are undeniably rare. NGC, for example has graded only 12 Mint State pieces, the finest an MS62★. We hazard the opinion that some of the 11 MS60 and MS61 pieces in the NGC census are also resubmitted coins. PCGS has seen six Mint State specimens, including four in MS60 (duplications?), and the finest, again, an MS62 (9/21).”

An offered MS-62 PCGS-certified 1877-CC Coronet double eagle, in a tie for finest-certified, came from a mintage of 42,565. Again, most survivors are in circulated grades, and Mint State survivors show heavy bag marks. PCGS has certified seven coins in this grade, with none finer.

Heritage observed in the catalog description, “The present coin is a splendid MS-62 example that combines the highest available technical quality with vivid, partially reflective orange-gold surfaces and vibrant mint luster for outstanding eye appeal.”

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments