One of just nine known 1870-S silver dollars and the third finest known 1920-S gold $20 will highlight a New York City auction to be called by Heritage Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at the Waldorf-Astoria.
According to the catalog, only nine examples of the 1870-S Seated Liberty dollar can be definitively traced, and only 12 are believed to have been produced.
The silver dollar is graded XF-40 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, which Heritage says puts it roughly in the middle of the know examples in terms of quality.
The 1920-S Saint-Gaudens $20 is graded MS-65 by the Professional Coin Grading Service.
By certified grade today, it ranks third in Roger Burdette’s Condition Census, according to Heritage.
This rarity is one of a number to be offered from the Cherny Collection.
These include a 1921 in MS-62 and MS-64 or higher examples of 1927-S, 1929, 1930-S, 1931, 1931-D and 1932 $20 gold coins.
The 1870-S silver dollars were probably intended to be used solely as mementoes to dignitaries at the Mint cornerstone laying ceremony in San Francisco May 25, 1870. One is probably in the cornerstone itself.
According to the Heritage lot description, “When one examines the roster of the known 1870-S dollar specimens, it appears that is precisely what they were intended for -- mementos – and most appear to have been used as pocket pieces. They certainly show evidence of many years’ ownership by non-numismatists. Only one of the nine known examples is Uncirculated. Other pieces are scratched, one shows a test mark, another is pitted, and still another tooled.
“The commonly accepted number of 1870-S dollars produced is 12. In the absence of Mint records to back up that number, or any other credible primary source, we are left with nine known examples, another that allegedly appeared and then disappeared around 1990, and an 11th piece that is presumably still entombed in the cornerstone of the San Francisco Mint building. That would mean one other piece is lost, which would bring the total to a nice, round figure of 12 pieces.”
Rare, but not as rare as the 1870-S is the 1920-S gold double eagle.
The cataloger notes that no meaningful quantities of the 1920-S double eagle ever turned up in European hoards and less than 200 survive today. Original mintage was 558,000.
Visit HA.com/coins for the full stories of these two great American rarities in the New York Signature Sale.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News Express.
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