The 1929 Saint-Gaudens double eagle is one of the best examples of the things both good and bad that could have happened to a Saint-Gaudens double eagle to make a date either very available as is the case with the 1924 or 1928, or far more elusive than might be expected as was the case with any date after 1928.
It is probably no accident that the 1929 Saint-Gaudens double eagle has a memorable date as it was 1929 when the stock market crashed and the roaring 1920s with their extravagant style came crashing to a halt. Bread lines would replace chorus lines as the nation fell into depression.
Even though double eagles were not being widely used in some parts of the country at the time, there were still fairly large mintages. The 1927 was close to 3 million while the 1928 was over 8.8 million. The 1929 was down a bit at 1,779,750, but that was still a fairly large total.
Certainly there were very few double eagle collectors at the time. Almost nobody was that rich, especially after the crash. There was almost certainly very little saving of the 1929 when it was released. In fact it’s very likely that had you wanted a 1929 the government would have been happy to sell you one for face value for a number of years as was the case with dates like the 1927-D. The double eagles after being produced were simply sitting in vaults.
The location of those vaults was important as if the coins were in the United States they would have been melted as a result of the Gold Recall Order of 1933. It was assumed that the 1929 was one of those dates where virtually the entire mintage was destroyed.
There were, however, other vaults located in places like Switzerland and France and if the dates happened to be sitting in those vaults they were outside of the reach of U.S. law and could not be melted. Then starting around the 1950s those coins began to safely return home, filling the market with large numbers of gold coins that most had assumed had been melted.
That appears to have been the case with the 1929. For many years it was seen as very tough or even a major rarity with relatively few examples known. Then over time it trickled onto the market. The numbers were never large, which could mean that they appeared in Europe in small numbers such as a roll or two, or that a large number was found but not released all at once to avoid causing the price to drop.
Whatever the case, the 1929 remains a good date with a price of $10,850 in AU-50 and $18,500 in MS-60 with an MS-65 at almost $100,000. It is not, however, a great rarity as now there are nearly 1,000 examples certified and even if some are repeat submissions the fact remains the 1929 is now available to collectors. In fact, the numbers are enough that virtually any collector desiring an example of the 1929 Saint-Gaudens double eagle can have a chance and that was certainly not the case decades ago.