Despite the difficulties of managing a convention in a time of pandemics, bad weather and skittish bullion market, this year’s American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money was a huge success.
As this issue goes to press, Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries are holding official auctions. Both sales are full of fresh discoveries, including a rare 1921 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle graded Proof 64+ by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker that realized $2,010,000 at Heritage’s Aug. 18 Platinum Night session in Dallas.
Heritage created the scene for drama by opening its lot entry with a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It also observed, “New research can fundamentally alter our thinking about famous rareties but the researchers were often looking for answers longstanding questions when he started” rather than completely unknown issues.
The first Satin Proof 1921 double eagle emerged in 2000. Raymond T. Baker, the director of the U.S. Mint had the discovery coin once before he gave it to his nephew, a newborn, shortly after it was struck. Six years later, the subject example was offered at the 2006 summer ANA auction. It was a regular issue and certified Mint State 63 (Professional Coin Grading Service). It was identified by several dealers as a Proof strike. According to notes from Brian Hendelson, a dealer in the ANA catalog, the coin would sell for $1,495,000 to Dan Ratner. He added that “Truly great coins rarely come on the market and hopefully a future generation of collectors will feel the same passion and excitement Dan and me fifteen years ago when this particular coin crosses the auction block.”
Philadelphia’s Mint tried out various Proof finishes with Saint-Gaudens’ series. These ranged from the darker Sandblast Matte Finish, to the more luxurious “Roman Finish.” However, contemporary collectors weren’t too thrilled and production of Proof double-eagles was stopped after 1915.
The absence of current documentation means that the 1921 Proof Issues’ technical qualities must speak for themselves.
Heritage describes it as “one of most important numismatic discovery of the 21st Century.”
John Albanese, founder of CAC, stated that he knew it was a proof the moment he saw it. He explained, “This one doesn’t look like any Mint State coins but has the look, texture and fabric of proofs I have seen.” It was an easy decision.