1858-S $20 MS (PCGS# 8925)

2012 January 4-8 US Coins & Platinum Night FUN Signature Auction- Orlando #1166

  • Auctioneer:
    Heritage Auctions
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Lot Description
1858-S $20 MS63 NGC. This 1858-S double eagle from the Galt's Gulch Collection, certified MS63 by NGC, is the sole finest certified at NGC. It is tied with one coin at PCGS in the same grade, unless the two grading events represent a single piece (10/11). The San Francisco Mint in 1858 would strike only four of the six authorized gold denominations, forgoing the lowly quarter eagle and the three dollar. In 1857 the nation's six mints combined would strike some $32,217,040 in gold coins, with more than $28 million of that in double eagles (and much of that from San Francisco). In comparison, in 1858 the total U.S. gold coin output would drop by nearly $10 million, to $22,875,737.50, likely reflecting the reduced economic activity precipitated by the financial Panic of 1857. And as in 1857, most of the year's total gold output comprised double eagles from San Francisco, nearly $17 million worth. The lack of high-Mint State 1858-S Type One twenty dollar gold coins today can be attributed both to collecting habits of the era and to the lack of any shipwreck recoveries that carried significant quantities of the issue. While the 1856-S and, much more so, the 1857-S double eagles are available in high Mint State due to the sinking of the S.S. Central America in 1857, the next major shipwreck recoveries were of the S.S. Republic and S.S. Brother Jonathan, both of which sank in 1865 (October 25 and July 30, respectively). Regarding collector preferences, collecting U.S. coin issues by date and mintmark was a habit that was still in the distant future in 1858. There were few collectors with sufficient wealth to collect double eagles of any sort, and most of them would have preferred a proof over a business strike. In any case, the collecting tastes of the era ran much more to Colonial coins, Washingtonia, and early American rarities much more than modern-day issues, whether proofs or business strikes. (There is no recorded proof mintage, but Akers comments that "this is the f
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