1869 $20 MS65+ PCGS CAC
"The Black Friday"
Single Finest 1869 Liberty Head Double Eagle MS-65+ PCGS CAC
One Of The Finest Type II $20 of All Dates
Double Eagles can be acquired more easily than other denomination due to repatriations or recovered sunken ships. This, however, is the case only for Type 1 and Type 3 $20. Type 2 $20 were more problematic caused by Civil War efforts and low mintages. As such Type II $20 are rarest in type and in all grades.
From a mintage 175,130 1869 $20 minted, most are seen in VF-AU as per David Akers. In fact in his book David Akers cites only 7 auction listings of unc pieces from 400 auction sales in the 1980's. In the wildly publicized Q. David Bowers's Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins, he estimates 15-20 unique uncirculated examples knowns. We have to surmise why so few have survived as according to NGC population report only a single MS-63 is cited as their finest, while this 65+ (ex 66) is finest by a mile on pcgs population report. From PCGS's estimate, which states 1,260 pieces in total exists today, it is an estimated survival rate of 0.72%, an incredibly low survival rate for a $20 much more so for Type II. As such this coin is not only a rare date but also a conditional rarity. As a type with one other 66 known this is/was tied for second finest, second to the common date MS-67 1875-S.
Beyond this coins technical grade, its visual prowess is far and beyond one of the finest, rivaling even most 66. With strong apricot color reverberating through, the coin's patina shines with sun-gold toning. The strike is exceptionally sharp and clearly struck and kept by the best. The surfaces are immaculate with and we would grade the reverse a 67. Far and wide the finest 1869 and one of the finest Type II $20
It is thus natural to question and wonder where and why this particular coin survived in such unbelievable quality for a rare date. The year 1869 was quite memorable for two speculators who created quite a stir in the gold market. President Lincoln partially financed the Northern war effort by issuing greenbacks (paper) currency. Gold had generally disappeared from circulation during the war and continued in hiding well afterward. As prices slowly returned to normal and more coins returned to circulation two speculators decided it might be fruitful to attempt to corner the market for gold. Normally, the huge holdings of the United States government were used to keep the price of gold stable. Nevertheless speculators Jay Gould and James "Jubilee Jim" Fisk employed various friends and acquaintances to have President U. S. Grant hold the Treasury's gold off the market, giving them a chance to control the price of gold. Grant was led to believe that long suffering farmers were unable to sell their home grown grain overseas as the price of gold was too low, so increasing it a bit might make local grain more competitive. Gould and Fisk bought highly leveraged positions in gold, hoping to cash in on the quick rise in the price of gold. At that time speculators could leverage about 100 to 1, in other words they could own 100 ounces of gold for every 1 ounce they purchased on paper. Naturally, just a small move in the price of gold the wrong direction would wipe out their holdings, but if they were correct, then millions could be quickly made in the market. Unsuspecting Grant cooperated for a brief time, and the highly leveraged Gould and Fisk made paper fortunes. The price of gold rose steadily into September, 1869. The Gould and Fisk scheme seemed to be working, then Grant found out the true motivation of his "friends" and Grant immediately authorized gold bullion to be sold by the Treasury. This happened on September 24, 1869, a date which became known as "Black Friday". The price of gold collapsed back to levels seen before the corner was attempted. Many speculators were wiped out, and Gould and Fisk had to move on to other ventures. This particular double eagle was struck during this wild year and perhaps served as a memento to someone involved as it recorded the famous year that Gould and Fisk nearly cornered the gold market, an event that is well recorded in the history books.
Provenance: From the D. Brent Pogue Collection, MS66 PCGS estimate -$300,000 - $400,000. Earlier, from Heritage's sale of the Madison Collection, January 2008 FUN Signature Auction, lot 3319, MS65 OGH PCGS for $299,000; Heritage's sale of the Gold Rush Collection, January 2005 FUN Signature Sale, lot 30073, MS65 OGH PCGS for $218,500.
Now Available as a MS65+ PCGS CAC. Please note there is no PRICE GUIDE for MS65+, but at a lower grade MS65 the PRICE GUIDE IS $300,000.
Information and parts retrieved from Heritage Auctions Catalog Description.
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