U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

Buy Coin Supplies

Top Ten Mint State Saints
by Paul Zappasodi

Much has been written about the $20 Saint-Gaudens series since it is quite possibly the most popular gold coin sought after today. I’d like to discuss the rarity/value relationship of the top ten scarcest dates, in mint state condition. I will exclude the 1933 from this discussion since there is only one coin legal to own and therefore unobtainable by the majority of registry collectors. Although most coins have appreciated in value over the last 10 years, the Saint-Gaudens series has been the area of some of the biggest increases. In compiling this list, PCGS and NGC population numbers are used as a starting point as well as CDN values over the last ten years. Needless to say, population report numbers are not entirely accurate due to resubmissions; however they do still represent a high degree of accuracy. The increasing popularity of registry sets makes such analysis important for current and future collectors. (All population data is current as of 2/2/07)

#10) 1908-S:

The 1908-S has the distinction of being the lowest mintage date (22,000) in the series (aside from the 1907 $20 High Relief) Since we are focusing on mint state examples today, some would be surprised to see this date in the top ten list, however with a certified PCGS population of 121 and an NGC population of 124 in all mint state grades I rank it number 10.

Most Uncirculated coins have soft satiny luster and an adequate strike. There are a small number of heavily abraded and unattractive lower grade mint state coins which came over from Europe in the last few years. None of those coins were above MS-63 in quality. This may be the reason that the CDN bid price has not adequately reflected this date’s value over the last 3 or 4 years. For example; 1908S has a current MS-63 CDN bid of $15,500. These have been trading at auction in the last year for between $19,578 and $21,850. The latter coin I purchased out of the ANR sale in Chicago, July of last year. Needless to say I resold the coin for a profit. The relative grey sheet value of the 1908S should therefore resemble the value of other key date Saints with equal rarity and population.
One date that comes to mind is the 1926-D. The combined certified population of both dates in MS-60-62 is 139(1908-S) and 123 for the 1926-D, roughly equal, yet the 26-D trades for over twice the price of the 08-S. Moreover in MS-63 the 1908-S has a certified population of only 31 while 1926-D has certified population of 50.

Once again, the current CDN bid for the 1926-D is $34,500, more than twice the 1908-S. It isn’t until MS-64 and above that the 1926-D establishes its higher rarity. One could therefore make the argument that the 1908-S is undervalued by today’s price levels. Still, the 1908S has appreciated in the last 10 years climbing from a Jan. 1997 MS-63 CDN bid of $7100 to today’s CDN bid of $15,500.

#9) 1926-D:

The 1926-D has always been considered rare. Most of the original mintage of 481,000 coins is thought to have been melted by the government back in the 1930’s. The only coins that survive today seem to be a few that made it over from Europe back in the 50’s and 60’s and some that were retained by collectors of the day. The PCGS population of 113 and NGC population of 90 in all mint state grades seem to bear this out. The 1926-D is extremely rare in grades above MS-63. When available, the 1926-D is usually well struck with good luster. CDN bid prices for MS-60-64 grades have more than doubled over the last 10 years

#8) 1927-S:

The 1927-S, even with its high mintage of 3,107,000 is another date that did not escape the government’s melting pot. Considered a great rarity even back in the 1940’s, on par with the fabled 1927-D, until a small group of coins were discovered in the 50’s and 60’s. Currently it is still a very rare date, with a PCGS population of 69 coins and an NGC population of 81 coins in all mint state grades. Most of the certified population is for grades below MS-64. When available, the strike can vary from full to being weakly struck in certain areas, however luster is usually good. CDN bid prices for MS-60-64 grades have more than doubled over the past 10 years. Even so, the 1927-S tends to trade for higher than CDN bid prices at public auction.

#7) 1931-D:

The 1931-D is part of what I call “the Fab 5” of dates in the $20 Saint-Gaudens series. The Fab 5 referring to the date run of Double Eagles from 1929-1932. These dates have been some of the most sought after and highest appreciating in the series. The original mintage of 106,500, while low, was not generally released into circulation and the majority of the coins were subsequently melted. The few that survive apparently came over from Europe as it seems that 31-D’s were struck primarily for export. As such, almost no circulated coins have been discovered to date (Certified PCGS and NGC population of only 3)

Total certified mint state population is 95 for PCGS and 50 for NGC. The vast majority of coins graded are in the MS-62-64 grades. When available, the strike and luster are usually strong but they are typically plagued by bagmarks. To illustrate the dramatic rise in value of this date, we go back to Jan. 1997 when MS-63 CDN bid was $16,000. As of January 2007, CDN bid is $75,000, an increase of nearly 370%! In MS-64 they have increased from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $21,000, to a current CDN bid of $90,000, nearly a 330% increase. The higher grades have fared nearly as well with MS-65’s increasing from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $50,000 to a current CDN bid of $103,000: up 106%. Recent auction results however show MS-65’s selling for $126,500. So in reality the increase has been on the order of 153%

#6) 1932:

The 1932 has the distinction of being the last “Fab 5” date in the run as well as being the last readily collectible Saint-Gaudens double eagle. The mintage figure of 1,101,750 is high; however like the rest of the 1929-32 date run, most were melted by the US government in the early 30’s. Since this date was never released into circulation, no circulated examples are known to exist and none have been graded by either PCGS or NGC to date. The current PCGS population in mint state is 57 and the NGC population is 71. The vast majority of coins graded are in the MS-64-65 range.

When seen, the 1932 is always well struck and lustrous. The 1932, like the rest of the “Fab 5” has appreciated tremendously over the last 10 years. In Jan. 1997 MS-63 CDN bid was $16,000. Current CDN bid is $60,000, an increase of 275%. In 1997 MS-64 CDN bid was $19,000. Current CDN bid is $75,000, an increase of 295%. Gem MS-65’s have also done well, appreciating from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $34,000 to a current CDN bid of $88,000, an increase of roughly 160%. However, current auction records show MS-65’s selling for $102,500-$103,500.

#5) 1931:

The 1931 is another date in the “Fab 5” run. Although the mintage of 2,938,250 is considerable, most coins never made it out of the government’s vaults and were subsequently melted. Just like the 1931-D almost no coins entered circulation. The combined PCGS and NGC population of circulated coins is only 2. The PCGS population in mint state is 74 and the NGC population is 40. The vast majority of coins graded are in the MS-63-65 range. The typical 1931 is of high quality with a very good strike and frosty luster. The 1931 is of slightly higher rarity than the 1931-D and 1932 overall, although in gem MS-65 condition both are rarer than the 1931.

In terms of appreciation over the past 10 years, the 1931-P has risen from a Jan. 1997 MS-63 CDN bid of $18,000, to a current CDN bid of $55,000, a 205% increase. In MS-64 they have increased from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $24,000, to a current CDN bid of $70,000; a 190% increase. Gem MS-65’s have appreciated from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $47,500 to an $85,000 CDN bid today, an increase of 79%. Although current CDN bid does not reflect this, I personally sold a MS-65 coin in the past year for $100,000 wholesale and have witnessed another trade for slightly more.

#4) 1920-S:

The 1920-S double eagle is a classic rarity. The original mintage of 558,000 coins was never widely circulated and it is apparent that most were melted by the government in the 30’s. No group or hoards have ever been discovered and this date does not appear in any groups of coins discovered in Europe. As such, it has been recognized as a rarity as far back as the 1930’s. The PCGS population in mint state is only 46 coins, the NGC population is 49. The vast majority of coins graded are in the MS-60-62 range.

When available, 1920-S is usually weakly struck with mediocre luster. It can be a challenge to find an attractive coin. This date has appreciated in value in all mint state grades over the past 10 years. In MS-63 quality, CDN bid has gone from a Jan. 1997 level of $35,500 to a current CDN bid of $71,000, an increase of roughly 100%. In MS-64, they have risen from a Jan. 1997 CDN bid of $55,000 to a current CDN bid of $135,000; a 145% increase. Gems trade very infrequently, however MS-65 CDN bid has risen from $75,000 to $150,000 in the last 10 years. It is likely that if an MS-65 did appear for sale that it would garner at least $200,000. The most recent MS-66 example sold was out of the Morse sale in November 2005 where it brought $517,500.

#3) 1921:

The 1921 is another classic rarity in the Saint Gaudens double eagle series. Few dates inspire such zeal in collectors. Most of the original mintage of 528,500 coins seems to have been largely melted, as evidenced by the small number of coins left surviving today. While it is probable that a small number of coins made it over to Europe, very few coins have appeared from that source to date. In terms of overall rarity, the 1921 is very similar to the 1930-S, except in grades above MS-63 where the 1921 is significantly rarer. In fact, one could argue that the 1921 is the hardest date to obtain in gem condition in the entire Saint-Gaudens double eagle series.

In Uncirculated grades, the PCGS population is 46 while the NGC population is 45. The vast majority of coins graded are in the MS-60-62 range. When found, 1921’s typically have an average strike with soft satiny luster. This date has done exceptionally well over the last 10 years with MS-60 graded coins rising in value from a Jan. 1997 price of $25,000 to today’s price of $85,000, a 240% increase. Similar results have occurred for MS-62 grade which have climbed from $45,000 back in 1997 to a CDN bid of $145,000 today. This represents a 222% increase. In MS-63 condition, CDN bid has risen from $51,000 in Jan. 1997, to today’s CDN bid of $200,000, a 292% increase. On that note, an MS-63 recently traded in the October 2006 Heritage sale for $218,500. This represents an increase of roughly 330% over 1997’s levels.

#2) 1930-S:

The 1930-S stands out as an important rarity. The original mintage of 74,000 coins was never released into circulation and was then sub sequentially melted. It is therefore likely that the only surviving coins were obtained directly from the mint in 1930. The 1930-S is one of the greatest rarities in the Saint-Gaudens series with fewer coins surviving in all grades than any other date aside from the famous 1927-D. While none were released in circulation, PCGS and NGC show a combined 2 coins graded in AU-58 condition. The remainder of the mint state population shows 38 coins graded by PCGS and 15 coins graded by NGC.

The majority of the coins graded are in MS-63-64 condition. When encountered, the 1930-S usually shows an adequate strike and soft luster, although bagmarks tend to be prevalent. As with the other dates on this list, the 1930-S has appreciated substantially in the last 10 years with MS-63 examples rising from a Jan.1997 CDN bid of $28,000 to $94,500 presently. This is an increase of roughly 240%. It is a similar result for the MS-64 grade which has risen from a 1997 CDN bid of $32,000 to the current CDN bid of $130,000. This represents an increase of 306%. Gem MS-65’s have shown similar appreciation.

#1) 1927-D:

This is it, the king of series as well as being the rarest 20th century US gold coin struck. Although pages could be written about this date, I will try to give you an abridged version. Out of the original mintage of 180,000, only 10-12 coins survive, with the rest being melted by the US mint. Current population data by both grading services support this as there are only 7 coins graded by PCGS and 5 by NGC. When seen, the 1927-D is well struck with excellent luster. In fact, only 2 of the coins graded are below MS-65 quality.

Out of the 10-12 coins estimated to survive, 3 are in the Smithsonian. This leaves at best 9 coins that can obtained by registry collectors. Prices for the 1927-D Saint-Gaudens have skyrocketed in the last 10 years with nearly any example bringing over $1,000,000 dollars. In Jan. 1997 CDN bid for MS-65 grade was $375,000. Current CDN bid is now 1.5M. The finest example graded is the Morse coin (PCGS MS-67) which sold for 1.89M, back in November 2005.

Numismatic Assets Inc.
900 Walt Whitman Rd, Ste 307
Melville, NY 11747
(631) 425-6203 Fax (631) 425-6237
www.numismaticassets.com
Paul@numismaticassets.com

 



© 1992-2018 DC2NET™, Inc. All Rights Reserved