By CoinWeek ….
 

On Sunday, September 27, bidding ends on GreatCollections.com for this 1932 Saint-Gaudens $20 gold double eagle, graded MS-65+ by PCGS and approved by CAC.

A total of 1,101,750 double eagles were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1932 but only about 100 to 150 pieces are thought to have survived to the present day. This survival rate is based on the 77 total grading events for the issue that PCGS lists in its population report. All of the Depression-era double eagles are rare no matter the condition, and most examples tend to come in mid-Mint State – but the current coin is one of only four specimens certified as MS-65+.

For comparison’s sake, 10 coins have been graded at MS-66, while the top pop coin is a single MS-66+. But keep in mind that CAC has declared the current piece to be strong for its grade.

There is only one auction record reported for a PCGS MS-65+, and that is for an example that sold for $93,000 USD in March of this year (there are no records for NGC MS-65+). The record price for any 1932 $20 gold double eagle is $184,000 for the PCGS MS-66+ top pop coin mentioned above, which sold for this amount in January 2012.

Image: PCGS.

For more auction results, you can search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years.

At the time of writing, the high bid on this 1932 Saint is $104,500 after 39 bids.

Background of the Saint-Gaudens $20 Doube Eagle

The Saint-Gaudens double eagle is one of the most famous of all American coin types. Its existence came only at the insistence of President Theodore Roosevelt, who sought for years to beautiful America’s humdrum coin designs.

Saint-Gaudens’ involvement in the process was meant to be more far-reaching than it turned out to be. The artist set out to redesign every denomination of America’s circulating coinage but fell seriously ill before this plan could truly come to fruition. In fact, what we have in the form of the Saint Gaudens-designed $10 and $20 gold coins were actually only made possible due to the work of Saint Gaudens’ assistant Henry Hering.

The Mint’s first strikings of this $20 design came in the form of two dozen Proofs, which were struck in March, each coin requiring nine impressions to realize the full detail of Saint-Gaudens’ high relief design.

The Mint’s engraving department, led by Chief Engraver Charles Barber, was adamant that the high relief models were completely impractical for use in striking circulating coins. Barber is often slandered in numismatic circles as being entitled, hard to deal with, and unprofessional to his peers in the U.S. Mint engraving department and to outside artists. This could not be farther from the truth, and in the case of the double eagle design, he was absolutely correct!

All double eagles struck in 1907 and most struck in 1908 lack the motto “In God We Trust” and are referred to as No Motto types. “With Motto” double eagles were struck from 1908 through 1933 when production of the coin was terminated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive orders recalling all privately owned gold.

Design

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 hand. Draped in a long, flowing gown, her hair is swept to the left. Some describe her as striding forward; the foot of her left leg rests on a large rock (in front of which are oak leaves), difficult terrain through which to be walking. To Liberty’s right, at the bottom of the coin, the sun is visible behind a depiction of the United States 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-six tiny six-pointed stars (48 stars from 1912 forward) are arrayed just inside the flat rim, forming a circle broken only at the bottom.

The date, in ‘Arabic’ numerals, is at the right bottom, above the rock, and a monogram of the designer’s initials ASG is below the date. With Motto Saints were minted in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco; D and S mintmarks are located above the date.

The crest of the sun appears again on the reverse, at the bottom with rays extending upward nearly to the top of 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.

E PLURIBUS UNUM in raised letters, with 13 separating raised stars, is on the edge of the coin.
 

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