By James McCartney – Senior Numismatist, Stack’s Bowers ……
Beginning in 1877, the denomination listed on the double eagle was expanded from TWENTY D. to TWENTY DOLLARS, ushering in the Type 3 design that would be used until the series conclusion in 1907. These three decades witnessed some of the lowest mintages of the entire series, presenting numerous challenges for today’s collectors.
The 1891 is one of these significant rarities among Type 3 double eagles, rivaling some of the legendary dates of the 1880s.
During this era, the resources of the United States Mint were evidently focused on production of the new Morgan silver dollar, pursuant to the Bland-Allison Act of 1878. As such, production of double eagles dwindled, and the small number produced were often sent to Europe and much of it eventually melted. Only 1,390 coins were struck for 1891 and fewer than 10% survive today. The vast majority are in circulated grades of AU-55 and lower, many with surface impartments. When writing in 1988, specialist David Akers called the 1891 “one of the rarest Philadelphia Mint” double eagles and remarked that he had seen just “three or four” Uncirculated examples.
We are proud to feature an impressive AU-58 (PCGS) 1891 double eagle in lot 4258 of our August Auction that approaches the lower ranks of the Condition Census. It is a historic rarity whose technical quality is matched by its eye appeal. Considerable reflectivity in the fields contrasts with the satin texture across the design elements. The complexion is a beautiful rose-gold with sharp detail throughout. Minor bag marks are noted under glass but true friction is minimal. It is superior in all respects and quite close to Mint State quality. PCGS has certified only seven coins in Uncirculated grades, emphasizing the significance of this Choice AU treasure.
This AU-58 (PCGS) will be offered in our Official Auction for the ANA World’s Fair of Money this August. It will accompany a vast selection of world-class rarities including the finest known 1804 dollar, an original 1827/3 quarter, a Mint State 1796 Stars quarter eagle, and many other treasures. For more information on our August auction, please contact Stack’s Bowers Galleries by telephone at 800-566-2580 or by email at [email protected].