Small denomination gold coinage was seldom seen in circulation after World War I, as people had become accustomed to using the more convenient paper money for everyday transactions. Large denomination gold coins still had a role to play in foreign trade and as backing for paper currency so double eagles were produced regularly throughout the 1920s to serve those needs. There was less demand for eagles, however, and after a large Philadelphia mintage of 1.4 million pieces in 1926, none were struck at any U.S. Mint until a small production of 96,000 examples was accomplished at the San Francisco facility in 1930.
As it happens, even that small mintage proved unnecessary, as an influx of gold from foreign banks more than balanced the outflow of gold in foreign trade in 1930. The unneeded eagles were stored in Mint and Treasury vaults, and none were released into circulation. A small number of coins were distributed to the public through the Treasurer’s Office and a few may have been saved by members of the annual Assay Commission. The great majority of the small mintage was melted into gold bars after the Gold Recall of 1933 took effect, and stored at the Fort Knox Bullion Depository. The 1930-S was the last branch mint eagle ever produced in this country for circulation.
Since the coins were never actually released into circulation, nearly all examples seen today are in Mint State condition. Experts believe the surviving population numbers about 200 coins, with only a handful in circulated grades. Mike Fuljenz notes that many survivors suffered from rough storage and handling, so excessive surface marks can be a problem. Accordingly, the 1930-S is a rare issue in grades above MS64.
Our upcoming March 14-16 Dallas Signature Auction features an attractive NGC-graded MS64 example, with unusually smooth yellow-gold surfaces. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, with just a trace of the usual softness on the curls around the face. Both sides radiate vibrant mint luster, with terrific eye appeal.
We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called.