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HomeUS Coins1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1925 Saint-Gaudens double eagle.
1925 Saint-Gaudens double eagle.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

By 1925, gold coins had mostly fallen from circulation within the United States. Instead, the Government intended these coins to fulfill two main roles: to be exported as payment for trade deals and to back U.S. gold certificates. Specifically, the coins’ role of backing gold certificates was highly important because, by law, they were redeemable in gold coinage at two-thirds of their face value. As for the export of the coins, they served as an economic reserve and helped the U.S. maintain its trade balance.

While the Philadelphia Mint produced the 11th-largest issuance of the entire series in 1925, it was still slightly smaller than the Denver or the San Francisco Mint. For this reason, combined with the fact that a majority of the 1925 issuance ended up overseas and thereby evaded the widespread melting of US gold coins in the 1930s, the 1925 Philadelphia double eagle is now known as one of the more common and easily acquired dates. Of an estimated survival rate of just under 250,000 pieces, NGC and PCGS report a combined total of 114,116 grading events.

Despite the large mintage, these coins were well-struck, and there are very few known errors, as with most U.S. gold coins. There is, however, one well-known error type: a Doubled Die Reverse referred to as FS-801. Examples of this variety show some extent of doubling on the eagles’ legs and wing feathers. It is probable that there are more than a few re-submissions and that the true population of this variety is much smaller.

How Much Is the 1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Worth?

In the highest grades, MS67 and 66, the 1925 Philadelphia double eagle is particularly difficult to acquire–especially since these grades account for only 2,123 examples (1.86% of the total population). Of the five examples sold in the past two years, most MS67 examples have gone for roughly $20,000 USD. Interestingly, one example sold by Heritage Auctions on May 5, 2022, hammered for $132,000 – the auction record for this type. Ten to 15 years ago, examples graded MS67 would have sold for an average price of $17,000.

When graded MS66+, these coins can fetch as much as $15,000 or as little as $4,500–at an average price of $9,000. For a straight MS66, collectors should be ready to pay roughly $4,000. An MS65 currently commands a premium of roughly $1,000 over melt and sells for an average of $2,700. In 2019, this grade sold for $1,600 to $1,800, at a premium of $300 to $500.

Currently, examples in MS62, 63, and 64–which collectively account for 82.9% of the NGC and PCGS combined populations–sell for between $2,100 and $2,300. When certified as MS61, examples sell for an average of $2,000, with specific pieces priced as high as $2,200 and as low as $1,700. With only 638 certified MS60 specimens, pieces of this grade rarely come to market, and, over the past 10 years, there have been only 14 sales. The last auction record for an MS60 dates back to the end of 2021 and sold for $2,280.

In all grades below Mint State, the 1925 Philadelphia Saint-Gaudens double eagle sells for melt (currently $2,355 as of April 13, 2024) or a 3-5% premium over spot.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

The 1925 Saint-Gaudens double eagle populations have grown up to and including the MS67 grade. One coin, the Kutasi-Duckor specimen, has upgraded from MS67 to MS67+. Before it earned the plus grade, it set an astonishing record for the most ever paid for a 1925 double eagle with a Heritage sale price of $132,000. A batch of NGC MS67s came from one order dating back to the late 2000s or sometime during 2010. A few of these Ultra Gems share the same die crack cluster on the obverse in the inscription LIBERTY.

Top Population: PCGS MS67+ (1, 4/2024), NGC MS67 (40, 4/2024), and CAC MS67 (2:0 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

  • PCGS MS67+ #47216355: As PCGS MS67 #21895711. “The Kutasi Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2007, Lot 3296 – $23,000. As PCGS MS67 CAC #16342398. “The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2012, Lot 4638 – $29,900; “The Warren Collection,” Heritage Auctions, May 5, 2022, Lot 4097 – $132,000. Dark spot on the right eye. Copper spot between stars 10 and 11. Upgraded. Plate coin on PCGS CoinFacts.
  • NGC MS67 #3316062-007: Heritage Auctions, March 18, 2011, Lot 5097 – $12,075; GreatCollections, January 28, 2024, Lot 1516410 – View.
  • NGC MS67 #3316062-006: Heritage Auctions, June 2011, Lot 5233; Heritage Auctions, October 7, 2021, Lot 3622 – $19,200; Heritage Auctions, August 24, 2022, Lot 4156 – $20,413.20.
  • PCGS MS67 #45420973: As PCGS MS67 #3736457. “The Paul Taylor Collection of Finest Known PCGS Registry Gold Type Sets,” Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2005, Lot 30652 – $32,200. As PCGS MS67 #45420973. “The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part IX,” Heritage Auctions, August 22, 2022, Lot 3416 – $31,200. Simpson novelty insert. Obverse is toned. There is a diagonal scratch from midway through ray 9 to Liberty’s right knee. A thin mark above ray 8. A small copper spot below R of LIBERTY. Copper spots on the eagle’s wings. Horizontal scratch across rays 5-7 on the reverse. Lustrous coin.
  • NGC MS67 #5744130-003: Heritage Auctions, June 17, 2021, Lot 3234 – $16,200.
  • PCGS MS67 #37543106: “The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold,” Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2020, Lot 4039 – $21,600. Fox on insert.
  • NGC MS67* #4877133-006: Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2019, Lot 6088 – $10,200. Toned.
  • NGC MS67 #1517265-006: Heritage Auctions, July 31, 2009, Lot 1351 – $14,375; Heritage Auctions, November 6, 2014, Lot 4165 – $9,400.
  • NGC MS67 #3603740-005: Heritage Auctions, February 4, 2014, Lot 5487 – $12,925.
  • NGC MS67 #3316062-001: Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2011, Lot 5233 – $10,062.50.
  • PCGS MS67 CAC #25590199: Heritage Auctions, June 3, 2011, Lot 5234 – $32,200.
  • NGC MS67 #3316062-003: Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2011, Lot 5526 – $11,500.
  • PCGS MS67 #21011794: Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2006, Lot 3614 – $21,850; “The Stephen Stokely Collection, Part Five,” Heritage Auctions, July 31, 2008, Lot 2116 – $27,600.
  • NGC MS67 #1575487-005: Heritage Auctions, August 10, 2007, Lot 3514 – $12,650.
  • NGC MS67: “The Buckhead Collection,” Stack’s and American Numismatic Rarities, October 5, 2006, Lot 312 – $13,800. Spot between rays 3 and 4, and another between rays 21 and 22 (above 9).
  • PCGS MS67 #2561735: “The Phillip H. Morse Collection of Saint-Gaudens Coinage,” Heritage Auctions, November 3, 2005, Lot 6673 – $23,000.
  • NGC MS67 #1873317-004: Heritage Auctions, February 25, 2005, Lot 9703 – $12,650.
  • NGC MS67 #1665105-004: Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2005, Lot 30572 – $13,800.

1920 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, Doubled Die Reverse (FS-801)

1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle with Doubled Die Reverse. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1925 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle with Doubled Die Reverse. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

This is one of a small handful of collectible Cherrypicker’s Guide varieties from the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. A well-known variety, doubling is present at the bottom of the eagle’s leg and tail feathers. Doubling is also apparent under glass in the motto IN GOD WE TRUST.

  • NGC MS67 #1846889-016: “The Collection of a Distinguished WW2 Veteran,” Heritage Auctions, October 16, 2020, Lot 3621 – $16,200.
  • NGC MS67 #1816460-001: Heritage Auctions, February 4, 2011, Lot 4737 – $25,300; Heritage Auctions, November 8, 2018, Lot 3312 – $10,200; Heritage Auctions, January 31, 2019, Lot 3973 – $8,400. Die cracks through LIBERTY. Heritage attributed Doubled Die.
  • PCGS MS66+ CAC #03132489: Heritage Auctions, April 24, 2020, Lot 4778 – $5,280; Heritage Auctions, May 6, 2022, Lot 5226 – $14,400.
  • NGC MS66 #3027429-007: Heritage Auctions, October 19, 2012, Lot 6425 – $5,287.50.

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Design

Obverse:

The obverse features a full-length image of Liberty, facing forward with an olive branch in her extended left hand and a raised torch in her extended right. Draped in a long, flowing classical gown, her hair is swept to the left. Some describe her as striding forward, but she appears instead to be in a pose, the foot of her left leg resting on a large rock (in front of which are oak leaves). To Liberty’s right, at the bottom of the coin, the sun is visible behind a depiction of the U.S. Capitol building. Rays from the sun extend upward from behind the Capitol and Liberty to about the level of Liberty’s waist. At the top of the coin is the word LIBERTY, the torch separating I and B. Forty-eight tiny six-pointed stars are arrayed just inside the flat rim, forming a circle broken only at the bottom.

The date (1925) is near the bottom on the right; a monogram of the designer’s initials ASG is below the date.

Reverse:

The crest of the sun appears again on the reverse, at the bottom with rays extending upward nearly to the top of the coin behind a majestic left-facing eagle, wings uplifted in flight. In an arc above the sun is IN GOD WE TRUST, the words separated by centered triangular dots. At the top is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in a concentric arc next to the flat rim, with TWENTY DOLLARS just below in another arc. The words of both phrases are separated by centered triangular dots, and the text is also in front of the sun’s rays.

Edge:

The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, in raised letters that alternate with 13 raised stars, is on the edge of the coin.

Designer

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) was a European-educated American sculptor, notable for numerous public monuments and other works in the Beaux Arts style. Working with President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, he is responsible for some of the most beautiful numismatic designs in American history, such as the gold $10 eagle and the gold $20 double eagle.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1925
Denomination: 20 Dollars (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 2,831,750
Alloy: .900 Gold
Weight: 33.44 g
Diameter: 34.00 mm
Edge: Lettered: E * PLURIBUS * UNUM * * * * * * * * * * *
OBV Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
REV Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Quality: Business Strike

 

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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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2 COMMENTS

  1. So… a $20 Gold Certificate was only worth thirteen dollars plus change? I’ve seen other articles that allude to gold coin, silver coin and paper money did _not_ trade at parity. I’m trying to understand how this worked for ordinary people back then. I would think that an employer would want to pay in paper money while a merchant would want to be paid in coin. And what about banks? Did they keep track of what form you deposited in, or did people simply hoard gold and silver?

  2. Gold certificates were redeemable for their full value in gold coin as directly stated on the notes. Before FDR devalued the dollar from $ 20.67 to (eventually) $35 per Troy ounce of gold, all gold certificates and coins were recalled from American citizens in 1933. There was never a time when gold certificates were redeemable for less than their stated value.

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