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Obverse of 1927-D Double Eagle     Reverse of 1927-D Double Eagle


1927-D $20 OR DOUBLE EAGLE

PCGS No: 9187

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: 180,000 (virtually all were melted or remain unaccounted for)
Proofs: 0

Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (modified by Charles E. Barber)

Diameter: ±34 millimeters

Metal content:
Gold - 90%
Other - 10% 

Weight: ±516 grains (±33.4 grams)

Edge: |******E|*PLURIBUS*|UNUM*****

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia) above the date)

The following roster of the known specimens is updated (June 10, 2005) from Heritage’s June 1995 sale of the 1927-D from the Museum of Connecticut History:

1-2) Two specimens in the Smithsonian Institution, from the Denver Mint in 1927.  These were viewed by the author in late March 2004.

3) J.F. Bell (Stack's, 12/44), lot 1004, the earliest auction appearance of this issue; Dr. Charles Green Sale (BMM, 4/49), lot 917.

4) The Schermerhorn specimen, sold by Stack's in a private treaty transaction to Josiah K. Lilly in 1953, now on display in the Hall of Money and Medals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. This may be a duplicate listing of the #3 specimen above.

5) The F.C.C. Boyd Specimen in WGC (Numismatic Galleries, 1/46), lot 1045; sold by private treaty by Stack's to Louis Eliasberg; Eliasberg (B&R, 10/82), lot 1067.

6) Schmandt Collection (Stack's, 2/57), lot 1072.

7) Lester Merkin 10/69 Sale, lot 626; Gilhousen (Superior, 2/73), lot 1041.

8) Auction '84 (Paramount, 8/84), lot 999.

9) 50th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/85), lot 868.

10) PCGS MS-66
- Dallas bank collection, sold by Sotheby’s and Stack’s, October 2001 for $402,500
- Rare Coin Wholesalers
- Legend Numismatics

11) Western Collection (Stack's, 10/81), lot 1252; "King of Siam" Collection (B&M, 10/87), lot 2201; Charles Kramer Collection (Stack's and Superior, 11/88, lot 913; Century Collection (Superior, 2/92), lot 3339.

12) Connecticut State Library duplicate, sold by Heritage Numismatic Auctions in June 1995, Lot 6026 for $390,500.  This coin is in an NGC MS-66 holder.

13) Connecticut State Library specimen.

14) David Aker’s sale of the Thaine Price collection, May 1998, Lot 115, PCGS MS-65, $577,500.  This is most likely a duplicate of one of the examples listed above.

 

Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

Notes:
The finest 1927-D Double Eagle graded by PCGS is a single MS-67.

According to Q. David Bowers, you could have purchased an Uncirculated 1927-D Double Eagle in 1932 for face value plus a small handling fee from a price list printed by the Treasury Department.

Recent appearances:
NGC graded MS-66 (illustrated above).  Ex - Superior Galleries "ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 989, unsold, where it was described as follows: "1927-D NGC graded Mint State 66.  The legendary status of the 1927-D Double Eagle is not due to a low mintage as with other issues in U.S. numismatics. Instead, its rarity is derived from a very high attrition rate. While it is well known among numismatists that Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces were taken up to be melted in the 1930s, it is the 1927-D that furnishes the most graphic proof of how thorough some melting activity actually was.  In the case of the 1927-D, it seems nearly the entire coinage succumbed! And yet, this date was not always thought of as rare.  The opinion of respected catalogers and researchers from the past actually put the 1924-D and 1926-D ahead of 1927-D in rarity!  But then in the 1950s and 1960s, these two other dates appeared in small hoards found in Europe.  No 1927-D ever was found among the bullion holdings of European banks.  By now, most overseas hoards of American gold have been examined (Europe's bankers are also numismatists, never forget, unlike ours).  To our knowledge only a few new discoveries of a 1927-D have surfaced in recent years, including two from a museum collection in Connecticut that sold in 1995.

The discovery of those was surrounded by mystery, and unfortunately not much light has been shed on why they went unknown to the numismatic community before 1995. Both were purchased at the time of issue by the numismatic curator of the Museum of Connecticut History.  Both resided in that establishment from 1927 until sold in 1995.  The question is why nobody in the numismatic community realized they were there!  Why there were not included in the roster of known specimens that has been repeatedly reported each time a specimen has appeared over the past twenty years.  Walter Breen did his researches in the MCH and many rare coins in the museum's holdings are described in his comprehensive encyclopedia.  But the 1927-D Double Eagles somehow escaped his attention!

The 1927-D offered here is universally considered as the rarest U.S. gold coin of the 20th century.  It has also the distinction of being the rarest coin of any denomination or metal from this century.  The only close rival is the Ultra High Relief $20, but a few more examples are known of it than the 1927-D.

Several pairs of dies were used to strike the 180,000 1927-D $20 gold pieces that were originally made.  However, the majority of known specimens trace to the same die pairing as this coin.  There is a short star to star die crack that passes through the top of the L in LIBERTY.  Another, longer crack passes from the bottom of the L through the top of the torch and on to the B.  On the reverse, a long, near-vertical crack passes through the eagle's beak, and a very short one is seen from above the eagle's eye that crosses the adjoining ray.

As is the case with the other known 1927-D Double Eagles, the luster and color are superb on this specimen.  The surface is heavily frosted, showing a rich, variegated orange gold color.  The strike is complete in all areas as well.  Post-striking impairments are minimal, which is clearly revealed in the grade assigned by NGC as well as the photographs we have taken of it.  Identifying marks include a single short abrasion through two upper rays just to the left of the end of the torch.

Among 20th century U.S. coins there are any number of issues that can be termed "rare" when what is actually meant is "desirable."  The 1927-D Double Eagle is a coin that truly earns the title of "rare."  Virtually every noteworthy collection of the past fifty years has lacked an example and there are precious few sets of Saint-Gaudens twenties today that can be classified as complete, including the 1927-D.  This is a truly rare opportunity for the advanced collector since only a couple of examples of the issue are offered each decade.  (Housed in NGC holder 557109-001)"

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2005" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

Q. David Bowers, "The Joys of Collecting", COIN WORLD, November 29, 1999, page 44