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HomeUS Coins1877 Liberty Seated Twenty Cent Piece : A Collector's Guide

1877 Liberty Seated Twenty Cent Piece : A Collector’s Guide

1877 Twenty Cent Piece graded NGC PF65UCAM. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1877 Twenty Cent Piece graded NGC PF65UCAM. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).

The 1877 Liberty Seated Twenty Cent piece is a Proof-only issue, of which the United States Mint in Philadelphia produced just 510 examples. Of those 510, it is believed that 160 pieces were melted after going unsold, leaving the new distribution of the issue at a paltry 350 coins. In their book Double Dimes: The United States Twenty-cent Piece(2014, with updates in subsequent years), authors Lane J. Brunner and John M. Frost identify only one die marriage (BF-1) for this issue, wherein the tips of the numerals “77” in the date on the obverse extend slightly higher than the “8”, which is itself set slightly higher than the “1”.

Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The majority of the issue was struck with a brilliant finish. Over time, this finish usually became muted, unless properly stored or conserved. Dark toning is also typical given the age of this issue. Original surfaces with strong mirrors, few to no hairlines, and attractive eye appeal will command strong premiums over typical examples.

The distribution of grades at both PCGS and NGC is largely consistent, with most examples of the date grading out in the Proof 63 to 64 range. There have been fewer than 10 grading events of an 1877 Twenty Cent piece with Deep/Ultra Cameo. Planchet flaws to the right of Liberty on the obverse are apparent on multiple high-grade examples.

In CoinWeek’s Cool Coins! Episode 10 (video below), coin dealer Jack Beymer recalled a Long Beach coin show “many years ago” where he had an 1877 in EF condition on display. A man he recognized as a coin dealer approached him and asked if he could take it to show to ANACS to see if it was real. Beymer let the dealer take the coin and he never came back with it.

Apparently, a number of these were purchased by an individual intent on running up the market. During this period, 1877 Twenty Cent pieces were selling for strong prices that were nearly double the market levels for the Proof-only 1878. Prices have since returned to normal. Perhaps the speculator gave up or ran out of money.

Top Population: PCGS PR-67+CAM (1, 2/2024). NGC PF-67UCAM (1, 2/2024). CACG PR-67DCAM (1, 2/2024).

  • PCGS PR-66DCAM #84752701: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2018, Lot 4813 – $57,600. Brilliant.
  • NGC PF-65UCAM #4240149-003: Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2019, Lot 3729 – $19,800; Heritage Auctions, February 20, 2020, Lot 3046 – $17,400. Blue and gold toning around the periphery. Unique blue toning pattern on obverse with blue at stars 3 and 4, star 6 to the 7 in the date, and stars 8 to 13.
  • NGC PF-67*CAM #3168413-008: Heritage Auctions, June 26, 2008, Lot 809 – $37,375. Cobalt blue toning around periphery of the obverse with rose colored toning on the interior. Rust-colored toning on the periphery of the reverse with gold interior.
  • NGC PF-67*CAM #3508344-003: Heritage Auctions, April 19, 2012, Lot 5080 – $20,125. Brilliant.
  • PCGS PR-66CAM #37385832: Heritage Auctions, June 6, 2019, Lot 3074 – $29,412. Toned on the obverse and reverse. Reverse has swirling toning of green, red, and blue, which looks like fire surrounding the eagle.
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1627875-003: Heritage Auctions, August 2010, Lot 3101 – $14,950; “The E.B. Strickland Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2018, Lot 4812 – $31,200. Brilliant. 
  • PCGS PR-66CAM #25214202: Heritage Auctions, Lot 5009 – $19,975.
  • NGC PF-66*CAM CAC #2037607-111: Colonel H.R. Green Estate to Eric P. Newman / Burdette Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.), circa 1940 – $22.50; Heritage Auctions, November 15, 2013, Lot 33326 – $27,025. Eric P. Newman Collection novelty insert. Plate coin on NGC Coin Explorer. Planchet flaws to the right of the knee.
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1633921-001: Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2003, Lot 6616 – $10,925; Heritage Auctions, April 27, 2006, Lot 1459 – $14,950; Heritage Auctions, September 23, 2010, Lot 3899 – $11,500. Brilliant. Planchet flaw near knee in field. Inactive certification number.
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1627875-003: Heritage Auctions, April 27, 2006, Lot 1459 – $14,950; Heritage Auctions, August 11, 2010, Lot 3101 – $14,950; “The Zack Fluor Collection”, Heritage Auctions, August 9, 2013, Lot 5573 – $17,037.50. Brilliant.
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1727319-005: “The Dr. James Olsen Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2013, Lot 5770 – $14,100. Brilliant. 
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1785865-007: Heritage Auctions, August 11, 2010, Lot 3102 – $11,500. Toned all over. Blue rim toning at 12-3 o’clock and 7-9 o’clock.
  • NGC PF-66CAM #1854497-002: Heritage Auctions, August 9, 2007, Lot 1644 – $18,400. Darkly toned.

 

  • PCGS PR-63CAM CAC #16328239: Featured on Cool Coins!, Episode #10 (2012). Coin dealer Jack Beymer showed the coin, which he claimed he paid $6,000 for it.
  • NGC PF-67 #429170-001: Heritage Auctions, July 28, 2005, Lot 10171 – $20,700; “Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two”, Heritage Auctions, April 30, 2009, Lot 2305 – $20,700; Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2012, Lot 3164 – $17,250. Darkly toned in green, red, and orange on the obverse and reverse.
  • NGC PF-67 #684140-018: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2010, Lot 2499 – $18,515; Heritage Auctions, August 11, 2010, Lot 3100 – $18,400; “The Greensboro Collection, Part V”, Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2015, Lot 4010 – $15,275. Blue, rose, and green toning.
  • NGC PF-66+ #2706273-002: Heritage Auctions, July 6, 2017, Lot 3063 – $18,800. Maroon toning on reverse. Planchet defect to the right of Liberty’s knee.
  • PCGS PR-66 #46222945: “Collection of James Allaire Millholland, 1842-1911”, Stack’s Bowers, March 21, 2023, Lot 3004 – $16,800. Beautifully-toned example, dark mark on eagle’s wing extending into the field. Small spot to the left of star 11 is unfortunate.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1877
Denomination: Twenty Cents (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 510
Alloy: .900 silver, .100 copper
Weight: 5.00 g
Diameter: 22.00 mm
Edge Plain
OBV Designer William Barber
REV Designer William Barber
Quality: Proof

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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