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SERIES: Liberty Head $20 1849-1907
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1881 $20 (Proof)

PCGS #:
9097
Diameter:
34.00 millimeters
Designer:
James Barton Longacre
Weight:
33.40 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
61
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$82,800 • PCGS PR65 • 11-1-2000 • Bowers & Merena
Go To Grade
  • 62
  • 62+
  • 63
  • 63+
  • 64
  • 64+
  • 65
62+
42,000
62+
63
60,000
2
63
63+
55,000
63+
64
85,000
2
64
64+
95,000
64+
65
150,000
2
65
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 20 R-9.1 10 / 31 TIE 32 / 55 TIE
60 or Better 19 R-9.1 10 / 31 TIE 31 / 55 TIE
65 or Better 5 R-9.7 9 / 31 TIE 24 / 55 TIE
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
3 PR64 PCGS grade  
3 PR64 PCGS grade  
5 PR63 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
3 PR64 PCGS grade  
3 PR64 PCGS grade  
5 PR63 PCGS grade  
5 PR63 PCGS grade  
7 PR62 PCGS grade  
8 PR53 estimated grade  

David Akers (1975/88): Proofs and business strikes of this date are similar in rarity, although there are a few more business strikes around than there are proofs. Of the 61 proofs minted, I would estimate that approximately 15-18 still exist.

 


P. Scott Rubin: The 1881 Proof Double Eagle is the first of a group of seven Philadelphia minted Double Eagles that fall into the rare to very rare category. In the case of the 1881 Philadelphia Double Eagle the mintage of the circulation coinage is very low at 2,199 while the mintage of the 1881 Proof Double Eagle, at 61, is a little on the high side for Proof Double Eagles that preceded it.

At first the mintage of 1881 Proof Double Eagles might seem like a small number. However, it should be kept in mind that in the early 1880’s there were virtually no American collectors of Double Eagles by date and even less by date and mint mark. To the few Double Eagle collectors, the 1881-S Double Eagle with a reported mintage of 727,000 allowed collectors an available alternative.

In fact from the 1880’s until the early 1930’s I can find no auction record of an 1881 Philadelphia circulation strike Double Eagle being offered at auction. During the same time period ten 1881 Proof examples were offered at auction.

It appears for the few Double Eagle Collectors of the late 19th Century thru the early 20th Century the available 1881 Proof issue was what would probably be in their collection. It was not until the late 1960’s onward that a few more circulation strike 1881 Philadelphia Double appear with some regularity in the market place. This appears to be from examples in bags of Double Eagles held by banks outside the United States following the removal of gold as a circulating currency in 1933.

It is believed that today there are less than twenty of the original 61 reported Proofs in existence, three of which are known in institutional collections. It is also believed that there are less the forty of the original 2,199 circulation strikes still in existence.