US Coins

Saddle Ridge Hoard 1889-S Coronet $20 in MS-63+

An 1889-S Coronet $20 double eagle from the Saddle Ridge Hoard graded MS-63+ brought $5,575.50 at a Feb. 11 GreatCollections sale.

Images courtesy of GreatCollections.

Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. announced at the March 2010 American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Fort Worth, Texas, that they would be adding “plus” grades to Mint State coins. PCGS co-founder David Hall explained that “plus” grading recognizes that the best coins in a grade trade at a premium to others in the marketplace: “The high end for any particular grade represents the top 30 percent of the scale within a grade and I estimate that the plus designation would apply to approximately 15 percent to 20 percent of the coins within any individual grade.”

Here’s one MS-63+ coin that sold recently in an online auction that shows collectors are willing to pay a premium for a plus sign.

The Lot:

1889-S Coronet $20 double eagle discovered in the Saddle Ridge Hoard, MS-63+ 

The Price:


The Story:

Coins in slabs with special labels from well-known shipwrecks and hoards are always popular. This 1889-S Coronet gold double eagle has a special PCGS gold foil label stating that it came from the Saddle Ridge Hoard. The famed hoard consisted of 1,427 gold coins uncovered in California’s Sierra Nevada gold country in 2013 by a couple identified only as “John and Mary.” The discovery rewrote population reports, and among the finds were two 1889-S double eagles graded MS-65 that became tied for the finest known.



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The $5,575.50 that this MS-63+ example sold for on Feb. 1 is far more than the $2,880 that two nonhoard MS-63 examples brought earlier this year, and the price is just a bit under what an average MS-64 example might bring at auction. The absence of direct recent auction comparables in either the MS-63+ or MS-64 grade leads to some questions. Did the buyer pay a substantial premium for the Saddle Ridge Hoard pedigree? Or perhaps he or she simply wanted a nice MS-63+ example of this date. Or was the coin purchased with hopes of regrading it to an MS-64 holder?

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