US Coins

Coronet $20s part of Heritage’s ANA Platinum Night

A duo of Coronet gold $20 double eagles are two standout lots as Heritage Auctions starts to share highlights for its Aug. 13 to 18 American Numismatic Association Platinum Night auctions as an ANA Event Auctioneer Partner.

The sale will be held at Heritage’s Dallas headquarters, with viewing at the ANA World’s Fair of Money convention in metropolitan Chicago, Aug. 6 to 10.

An 1870-CC $20 double eagle is a famed issue from the Mint at Carson City, and no example from the mintage of 3,789 survives in Mint State condition. Rusty Goe estimates that, in all grades, no more than 65 examples survive, in his 2020 book The Confident Carson City Collector: Volume 1.

The offered Numismatic Guaranty Co. Extremely Fine 45 representative is a handsome survivor. Heritage’s cataloger notes light wear, with a typical sharper reverse than obverse, adding, “The pleasing orange-gold surfaces show the expected number of minor abrasions for the grade, but none are large or unduly distracting.” Heritage sold a similarly graded example in April 2021 for $384,000.

Goe advises collectors to consider paying a hefty premium for an attractive example with eye appeal, writing, “Surfaces on many examples of this date-denomination show ... have heavy abrasions; some have severe scrapes or scratches.” Heritage says the choice XF example it is offering is an exception to the typical survivor, noting, “the overall presentation is quite attractive.”

Relating its history as the first issue of the denomination at the CC-mint, Goe leaves his readers with this: “The same pride that resonated in the minds of Abe Curry [first superintendent of the Carson City Mint] and his workforce when the first batch of $20 gold pieces clanged off the coin press in March 1870 should fill the hearts of all fortunate collectors who own surviving specimens of this extremely rare and bewitching date-denomination.”

Proof-only 1883 gold $20

The 1883 Coronet gold $20 double eagle is a Proof-only issue — no circulation strikes were produced at the Philadelphia Mint that year, and just 92 Proof strikes were produced to satisfy collector demand. Of those, John Dannreuther estimates, optimistically, that 32 survive. It is a classic rarity in the series and Heritage’s offering of one graded Proof 65 Deep Cameo by Professional Coin Grading Service, with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, is significant.

This piece was previously offered at a 2017 sale by Legend Rare Coin Auctions, where it was presented with an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, but it did not make its reserve. Legend Auctions wrote, “Displaying a bold orange peel effect in the fields and smooth frosty reliefs, the contrast is eye arresting from across the room.” Bidders also received this insight: “Unlike many examples of proof gold from the era, this coin has not been conserved, displaying some pleasing iridescent toning in places.”

Heritage lists it as the fifth-finest known, and Dannreuther writes in his book United States Proof Coins: Volume IV: Gold that the quality of gold Proofs this year is unusually high, though some lack the heavy frost seen on the offered coin.

Dannreuther wonders in his pages about why the survival rate is low for the issue, asking, “With no circulation strikes, why would a collector sell or spend this date?” Since examples were available from the Philadelphia Mint for just 25 cents over face value, perhaps collectors speculated, and then spent the investment.

Another similarly graded example that was offered without a green CAC sticker sold for $336,000 at Heritage’s January 2021 Florida United Numismatists auction, providing evidence of the high-demand for this Proof only $20 coin.

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