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HomeUS Coins1931 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1931 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1931 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Image Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1931 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle. Image Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).

A total of 2,938,250 Saint-Gaudens double eagles were struck in 1931. None of the coins were distributed to the Federal Reserve Bank, and nearly all minted coins were kept in storage, where they were easily assembled when the Treasury Department recalled all U.S. gold coinage in 1933. As a result, almost the entire mintage was destroyed, starting in 1937.

United States Mint records indicate only 310 coins were ever made available to collectors. One hundred and forty-one of those coins were held by the Mint cashier as the year came to a close.

Various experts estimate that only 100 to 120 coins survive,and only a small handful of coins in the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series are rarer. Some 1931 double eagles display a die break through the eagle’s beak on the reverse.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Collectors in the mid-to-late 1920s could not have predicted that the gold coins of the day would soon become major rarities. Were it not for local Philadelphia dealers like Israel Switt, the coin would likely have been even more elusive.

When Thomas Elder offered one in his September 1937 auction, it was apparent to some that the late dates would pose a problem for completionists. But the market didn’t really take off until the 1940s, when uncirculated examples were bringing $200 to $300 at auction—when they were offered.

The better of the two Phillip H. Morse 1931 double eagles has been perched at the top of the PCGS census for at least 20 years.

Top Population: PCGS MS-67 (1, 2/2024). NGC MS-66 (5, 2/2024). CAC MS-66 (4:0 stickered:graded, 2/2024)

  • PCGS MS-67 #4950745: RARCOA, August 1980, Lot 1998 – $57,500; Paramount, July 1984, Lot 1000 – $38,500; “Phillip H. Morse Collection,” Heritage Auctions, November 3, 2005, Lot 6710 – $264,500; Heritage Auctions, August 2010, Lot 3650 – $322,000; “The Dr. Brandon Smith Collection,” Heritage Auctions, August 11, 2010, Lot 3650 – $322,000.
  • PCGS MS66 #45402582: “The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part X,” Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2023, Lot 3962 – $300,000. Bob Simpson novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS-66 #07158941: “Kutasi Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2007, Lot 3308 – $132,250; Heritage Auctions, November 30, 2007, Lot 62018 – $126,500.
  • PCGS MS-65 #08648078: Heritage Auctions, January 2010, Lot 2338; Heritage Auctions, January 2017, Lot 6107 – $100,462.50; “The Northern Lights of Vermilion Collection,” Heritage Auctions, October 6, 2022, Lot 3406 – $144,000.
  • PCGS MS-66 CAC #10007661: “The Warren Collection,” Heritage Auctions, May 5, 2022, Lot 4115 – $312,000.
  • PCGS MS-66 CAC #04946403: “The Phillip H. Morse Collection,” Heritage Auctions, November 2005, Lot 6711 $115,000; “The Kodiak Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 23, 2020, Lot 3890 – $150,000. Re-encapsulated. A cluster of black spots on the eagle’s wing.
  • PCGS MS-66 #81719772: Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2016, Lot 5646 – $129,250.
  • PCGS MS-66 #16338072: Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Gold Coin Collection” – purchased by Duckor; “The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2012, Lot 4650 – $126,500.
  • PCGS MS-65 #21872238: “The Noel Thomas Patton Collection,” Heritage Auctions, May 3, 2023, Lot 3358 – $174,000.

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Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1931
Denomination: Twenty-Dollars (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 2,938,250
Alloy: .900 gold, .100 copper
Weight: 33.436 g
Diameter: 34.00 mm
Edge: Lettered: E * P * L * U * R * I * B * U * S * U * N * U * M *
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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