US Coins

Market Analysis: Proof 55 1914 $20 gold double eagle

A lightly circulated Proof 55 1914 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle sold for $20,187 at a Feb. 13 GreatCollections auction.

Images courtesy of GreatCollections.

The term Proof refers to a special manufacturing process that results in high-quality coins destined for collectors rather than circulation.

In other words, Proof does not refer to a grade, but rather the result of a manufacturing process. Typically, Proof coins are characterized as having reflective mirrored fields and, often, frosted devices.

However, the U.S. Mint experimented with Matte Finish Proof coins in the early 20th century, and contemporary collectors complained that they did not look that much different from the circulation strikes. Some of the gold issues of this era entered circulation and lost much evidence of their origin as Proof strikes.

GreatCollections offered a 1914 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle graded Proof 55 by Professional Coin Grading Service on Feb. 13 that sold for $20,187. Despite a bit of wear at the high points, it retains the coarse surface texture seen on the Proof gold coins that year (it’s been referred to as a “coarse sandblast finish”) and has the bold strike one would expect on a Proof coin. A comparably graded circulation strike produced at the Philadelphia Mint for circulation that year would cost $2,500.

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