US Coins

1927-D double eagle tops 1.2 million dollars

Gold rarities headlined Heritage Auctions’ March 20 sale of the collection of entrepreneur Donald E. Bently. 

Leading the sale was a 1927-D Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagle, considered the rarest regular-issue 20th century coin. It brought $1,292,500.

Graded Mint State 63 by Professional Coin Grading Service, it is the seventh finest known of the seven examples of the issue that are available for private ownership. The finest, graded MS-67 by PCGS, last sold at a 2005 Heritage auction for $1,897,500. Earlier this year, at Heritage’s Florida United Numismatists auction, a different example graded MS-66 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. brought $1,997,500. 

The Bently example is identified by a diagonal field mark between Liberty’s hair and the rays below; a thin luster graze running diagonally downward into the field from the olive stem; a mark at the base of the R in LIBERTY; and a near-vertical mark touching two rays to Liberty’s right on the obverse. 

Beyond the seven that have traded in the last decade are two more termed “mystery coins” that Heritage says, “have gone unseen, to our knowledge, for decades — one since 1957, one since 1973.” Four more examples in museums, including three in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and one in the Museum of Connecticut History at the Connecticut State Library, bring the total of known examples to 13. 

A gold ‘CC’ rarity

Like rare, late-date Saint-Gaudens double eagles, rare Coronet double eagles from the Carson City Mint in Nevada have long been well-heeled collector favorites. 

The Bently Collection offered one of the finest known 1870-CC double eagles. With a paltry mintage of 3,789 pieces and graded About Uncirculated 53 by PCGS, it represents the finest graded by PCGS, and is tied for the third-finest overall. It brought $411,250.

The catalog’s roster of high-grade 1870-CC double eagles lists a Numismatic Guaranty Corp. AU-58 example (which was recently discovered, subsequently stolen in shipping and remains missing), along with an NGC AU-55 piece that realized $414,000 at a 2009 Bowers and Merena auction. 

A different AU-53 example graded by NGC brought $345,000 during Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ 2012 Philadelphia American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money auction. 

The issue is one of the rarest in the Coronet double eagle series and perhaps only three dozen or so are known today, with most showing heavy circulation. No Mint State survivors remain and only eight to 10 About Uncirculated coins are believed known. 

Other interesting lots included an 1854-S Coronet $2.50 quarter eagle graded PCGS Good 6 and one of only a dozen known from an original mintage of 246 pieces. It sold for $193,875.

Proceeds from the auction will be directed to the Bently Foundation, which is committed to supporting the environment, arts, and animal welfare with a focus on California’s Bay Area and Northern Nevada.

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