Images courtesy of Superior
The 1876-CC Twenty Cents is a great rarity in American
numismatics. A mintage of 10,000 makes for a rare coin, but the
extreme rarity of this date may have been caused by other factors.
In a letter dated March 19, 1877, the Director of the Mint (Henry R.
Linderman) ordered the Superintendent of the Carson City Mint (James
Crawford) to melt down all Twenty Cents still on hand at the time.
Presumably, many, if not most, of the 1876-CC Twenty Cents were included
in the melt.
An estimated 12-20 1876-CC
Twenty Cents are known today. Most of the surviving examples are in
Uncirculated condition, leading some experts to believe that they were
specimens set aside for the annual assay. If this is true, how did
the coins escape and doesn't the number of surviving examples exceed the
number of coins normally set aside for assay purposes?
Breen cited a
"Maryland estate" in the pedigrees of four of the 16 1876-CC
Twenty Cents he listed. According to Breen, "The Maryland
estate (1957) reportedly contained 10 in all, of which I examined
four..." The cataloguer of the October 2003 Stack's sale
explains, "In the late 1950's, five to eight were discovered in Baltimore by Tom Warfield of the Mason-Dixon Coin Exchange, an early mentor of the late Walter Breen. These ``Maryland Hoard'' pieces were all high grade, Very Choice to Gem
The finest example graded
by PCGS are 2 MS-66's.
NGC MS-66. Superior
NGC MS-66 (illustrated above). Ed Frossard 12/1900 - S. Benton Emery - Bowers &
Merena 11/1984:482 - Superior 03/ 2001:237, $161,000.00, where it was described as follows:
"1876-CC NGC graded Mint State 66. The Emery-Nichols
Specimen. Satiny-frosty surfaces on obverse and reverse.
Brilliant throughout. Diagnostic features: a tiny mark in the field
to right of the third star; a faint hairlines from the rim to the rock left
of the date; NGC holder #700000-001. One of the finest examples of
this, a classic American rarity."
PCGS MS-66. Heritage
10/2001:6222, $138,000.00, where it was described as
follows: "1876-CC 20C MS66 PCGS. The huge amounts of silver that
flowed from western mines such as the Comstock Lode flooded the world
market and forced the gradual reduction of the metal's price throughout
the late 1860s and early 1870s. In an effort to assist western mine owners
by providing yet another federal outlet for their product, Senator John
Percival Jones of Nevada introduced a bill in February 1874 calling for
the production of a silver Twenty Cent Piece. First minted in 1875, the
denomination's size and design led to widespread confusion with the Seated
Liberty Quarter. Nevertheless, Director Henry R. Linderman understood the
political pressure that the Mint faced to produce as many coins as
possible from Comstock Lode silver. Accordingly, he instructed James
Crawford, Superintendent of the Carson City facility, to maintain ample
supplies of the denomination on hand. Since many of the 133,290 Twenty
Cent Pieces struck at Carson City in 1875 had already been released into
circulation, Crawford authorized the production of another 10,000 pieces
in 1876. Struck sometime during the first week of May, the majority of
these coins remained in the Mint's vaults until May 19, 1877. On that day,
Linderman wrote Crawford a letter in which he instructed the
Superintendent to destroy all remaining Twenty Cent Pieces. Shortly
thereafter, between 12,300 and 12,350 CC-mint Twenty Cent Pieces went into
the melting pot, a total that included almost the entire mintage of the
1876-CC. Nevertheless, about a dozen specimens escaped destruction through
the hands of Mint employees and/or Assay Commission members.
This coin presents a remarkably different "look" than the
specimen that we offered as lot 5177 in our January 2000 FUN Signature
Sale. Both sides are richly toned in lavender-copper patina with brighter
gold and blue undertones that sparkle as the coin rotates beneath a light.
The devices are fully struck save for slight softness of detail on the
obverse over Liberty's head and on the reverse at the top and bottom of
the eagle's portrait. Modest hints of reflectivity are seen in the fields,
as well as numerous small die polish lines (as struck). A tiny lintmark
(also as produced) in the reverse field above the eagle's left (facing)
wing is noted for pedigree purposes."
NGC MS-65. F.C.C. Boyd -
Jerome Kern - Edwin Hydeman - Armand Champa - Reed Hawn - Stack's 02/2002, $115,000.00,
uncertified - offered by David Lawrence Rare Coins in the January 7,
2003 issue of NUMISMATIC NEWS for $175,000.00
PCGS MS-64. Superior
2/1991:1297 - Stack's
10/2003:2599, $131,000.00, where it was described as follows: "1876`CC' Very Choice Brilliant Uncirculated. This lustrous near-Gem displays pleasing silver mint lustre with the merest blush of pale gold. LIBERTY on the obverse shield is boldly doubled as on all genuine Carson City strikes of this historic date. The reverse is splendidly detailed with diamond-sharp feathers on the eagle, full centrils on both stars, mintmark being precise and full. The 1876`CC' ranks with the greatest classical rarities of U.S. coinage, in a class with the 1804 Eagle, 1815 Half Eagle, 1804 Dollar, 1838`O' Half Dollar, 1802 Half Dime and 1913 Liberty Nickel. Mint records show 10,000 struck, but on May 19, 1877, Mint Director Henry R. Linderman instructed Carson City Mint Superintendent James Crawford, ``You are hereby authorized and directed to melt all 20-cent pieces you have on hand, and you will debit `Silver Profit Fund' with any loss thereon.'' While a very few pieces might have been paid out earlier following regular Mint procedure, the melting apparently claimed all the 1876`CC' mintage except a handful shipped East for the Annual Assay conducted on Feb. 14, 1877. It must be emphasized that before poet, artist and numismatic leader Augustus Goodyear Heaton published his Treatise on the United States Branch Mints in 1893, collectors paid little attention to mintmarks and made no effort to obtain more than one example of each date, even if a given date was struck at Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco or Carson City. Seekers of a 1876 Twenty Cent Piece would have been easily satisfied with a high quality Philadelphia strike, possibly a readily available Proof. By the time Heaton's slim booklet awakened them to the fact that there were many great mintmarked rarities waiting to be discovered, Mint State Branch Mint coins in Gold and Silver no longer existed in substantial numbers. Estimates of the numbers of 1876`CC' pieces now in existence range from 14 to 21 in all. A very few are well circulated, but the majority are in Mint State. Among the earliest collections to boast an 1876`CC' Twenty Cent Piece were those of R. Coulton Davis (1890), Dr. S.L. Lee (1899), John M. Clapp (later in the Eliasberg collection), J.G. Hubbard (1900), Virgil M. Brand and H.O. Granberg. Today several well-known specimens are referred to by the names of their most famous possessors: F.C.C. Boyd, William A. Knapp, William Cutler Atwater, Col. E.H.R. Green, Adolphe Menjou, G.H. Hall, Stoddard, B. Frank, George H. Smoots and Norweb. In the late 1950's, five to eight were discovered in Baltimore by Tom Warfield of the Mason-Dixon Coin Exchange, an early mentor of the late Walter Breen. These ``Maryland Hoard'' pieces were all high grade, Very Choice to Gem Uncirculated, apparently including the coin offered here. PCGS MS64."
"The PCGS Population Report, July 2003" by The
Professional Coin Grading Service