Hoard Made Double Eagle Attainable
By Paul Green
Morgan dollar, the
1924-S Saint-Gaudens double
eagle is one of the rare coins that actually
became much more available over time. Of course,
Morgan dollar, the
not delight the few who owned it at the time,
but it made for an extremely interesting story.
Its story starts out with a mintage of 2,927,500
pieces, which was a large mintage for Saint-Gaudens
double eagles. The only other high totals were
1924-S from the other mints.
No one in their right mind was going to save the
1924-S Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Dealers were
certainly not interested as being a high
denomination there were virtually no collectors
of Saint-Gaudens double eagles by date and mint.
To put it bluntly, no one knew or cared what
happened to the 1924-S Saint-Gaudens double
eagle for decades. It was about the middle or
late 1940s when the first real interest in
collecting double eagles by date and mint
surfaced. Collectors then discovered that the
1924-S was conspicuous in its absence.
No less a figure than B. Max Mehl thought there
were only three examples of the
1924-S known to
exist. You did not take a B. Max Mehl statement
lightly as Mehl knew more and handled more rare
coins than anyone.
How did the
1924-S get so rare? The natural
answer is that they were all melted in the wake
of the Gold Recall Order of 1933. It made sense
as over 30 percent of all the double eagles ever
made had been destroyed.
There was no dramatic moment when suddenly the
rare date became common. It was closer to a slow
drip. Starting around the end of World War II, a
small number of American coin dealers began
going to Europe to see what gold coins might be
in the vaults. What they found was a literal
Sitting in the European bank vaults by the
millions were U.S. gold coins that had been
exported long before the 1933 recall. Having
cheerfully been out of the country the coins
were just sitting, and included in their numbers
were many good dates and large quantities of
Mint State coins.
We don’t know how many there were, but today we
1924-S at $1,619 in VF-20, $3,000 in
MS-60 and $162,500 in MS-65. These are premium
prices, but they are a long way from the prices
brought by the great Saint-Gaudens rarities.
The grading service totals are quite a surprise
considering the 1949 estimate of three.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has seen 405 and
all but 22 were Mint State. Just seven were in
MS-65, and they are surely European coins.
Professional Coin Grading Service reports 417
examples with 66 being circulated and just a
single example as MS-65 or better.
1924-S is now a coin that can be found.
There are others like it as the European hoards
changed forever the gold coin market.