US Coins

‘Harshly Cleaned’ 1878-CC gold $20 means opportunity

Carson City Mint Coronet double eagles are always popular with collectors, and any major auction will likely have a few different dates to select from. Stack’s Bowers Galleries offered an 1878-CC Coronet double eagle graded About Uncirculated Details, Harshly Cleaned, by PCGS at its Rarities Night auction that is among the most challenging of the Carson City Mint double eagles. Just 13,180 were minted, of which perhaps five percent survive today. 

At $4,800, this example presented an opportunity for a collector to buy an entry level representative of the issue. Considering that one graded AU-50 without any qualifiers sold for $12,600 in April at Heritage’s Central States Numismatic Society convention, if one didn’t mind the unnatural surfaces that resulted in the Harshly Cleaned designation, the “problem coin” provided a solid option for a collector on a budget. 

PCGS defines improper cleaning as “Surface damage due to any form of abrasive cleaning,” writing that the term “covers a wide range of appearances.” The “Harshly Cleaned” qualifier goes undefined, but the overall impact on a coin’s value is akin to a “Polished” designation. 

1916-S Barber dimeInside Coin World: Spotlight on two 1916-S dimes: Columns found only in the June 17 issue of “Coin World” look at 1916-S dimes, death from cleaning coins, and counterfeiter biographies.



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