1927-D $20 OR DOUBLE EAGLE
PCGS No: 9187
Circulation strikes: 180,000 (virtually all were melted or
remain unaccounted for)
Designer: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
(modified by Charles E. Barber)
Gold - 90%
Other - 10%
Weight: ±516 grains
Mintmark: None (for
Philadelphia) above the date)
following roster of the known specimens is updated (June 10, 2005) from Heritage’s June
1995 sale of the 1927-D from the Museum of Connecticut History:
1-2) Two specimens in the
Smithsonian Institution, from the Denver Mint in 1927.
These were viewed by the author in late March 2004.
3) J.F. Bell (Stack's, 12/44), lot 1004, the earliest auction appearance
of this issue; Dr. Charles Green Sale (BMM, 4/49), lot 917.
4) The Schermerhorn specimen, sold by Stack's in a private treaty
transaction to Josiah K. Lilly in 1953, now on display in the Hall of
Money and Medals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American
History. This may be a duplicate listing of the #3 specimen above.
5) The F.C.C. Boyd Specimen in WGC (Numismatic Galleries, 1/46), lot 1045;
sold by private treaty by Stack's to Louis Eliasberg; Eliasberg (B&R,
10/82), lot 1067.
6) Schmandt Collection (Stack's, 2/57), lot 1072.
7) Lester Merkin 10/69 Sale, lot 626; Gilhousen (Superior, 2/73), lot
8) Auction '84 (Paramount, 8/84), lot 999.
9) 50th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/85), lot 868.
10) PCGS MS-66
- Dallas bank collection, sold by Sotheby’s and Stack’s, October
2001 for $402,500
- Rare Coin Wholesalers
- Legend Numismatics
11) Western Collection (Stack's, 10/81), lot 1252; "King of
Siam" Collection (B&M, 10/87), lot 2201; Charles Kramer
Collection (Stack's and Superior, 11/88, lot 913; Century Collection
(Superior, 2/92), lot 3339.
12) Connecticut State Library duplicate, sold by Heritage Numismatic
Auctions in June 1995, Lot 6026 for $390,500.
This coin is in an NGC MS-66 holder.
13) Connecticut State Library specimen.
14) David Aker’s sale of the Thaine Price collection, May 1998, Lot 115,
PCGS MS-65, $577,500. This is
most likely a duplicate of one of the examples listed above.
Images courtesy of Superior
The finest 1927-D Double Eagle graded by PCGS is a single MS-67.
According to Q. David Bowers,
you could have purchased an Uncirculated 1927-D Double Eagle in 1932 for
face value plus a small handling fee from a price list printed by the
NGC graded MS-66 (illustrated
above). Ex - Superior Galleries "ANA 2001 National Money Show
Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 989, unsold, where it was described as follows:
"1927-D NGC graded Mint State 66. The legendary status of the
1927-D Double Eagle is not due to a low mintage as with other issues in U.S.
numismatics. Instead, its rarity is derived from a very high attrition rate.
While it is well known among numismatists that Saint-Gaudens $20 gold pieces
were taken up to be melted in the 1930s, it is the 1927-D that furnishes the
most graphic proof of how thorough some melting activity actually was.
In the case of the 1927-D, it seems nearly the entire coinage succumbed! And
yet, this date was not always thought of as rare. The opinion of
respected catalogers and researchers from the past actually put the 1924-D
and 1926-D ahead of 1927-D in rarity! But then in the 1950s and 1960s,
these two other dates appeared in small hoards found in Europe. No
1927-D ever was found among the bullion holdings of European banks. By
now, most overseas hoards of American gold have been examined (Europe's
bankers are also numismatists, never forget, unlike ours). To our
knowledge only a few new discoveries of a 1927-D have surfaced in recent
years, including two from a museum collection in Connecticut that sold in
The discovery of those was surrounded by mystery, and unfortunately not much
light has been shed on why they went unknown to the numismatic community
before 1995. Both were purchased at the time of issue by the numismatic
curator of the Museum of Connecticut History. Both resided in that
establishment from 1927 until sold in 1995. The question is why nobody
in the numismatic community realized they were there! Why there were
not included in the roster of known specimens that has been repeatedly
reported each time a specimen has appeared over the past twenty years.
Walter Breen did his researches in the MCH and many rare coins in the
museum's holdings are described in his comprehensive encyclopedia. But
the 1927-D Double Eagles somehow escaped his attention!
The 1927-D offered here is universally considered as the rarest U.S. gold
coin of the 20th century. It has also the distinction of being the
rarest coin of any denomination or metal from this century. The only
close rival is the Ultra High Relief $20, but a few more examples are known
of it than the 1927-D.
Several pairs of dies were used to strike the 180,000 1927-D $20 gold pieces
that were originally made. However, the majority of known specimens
trace to the same die pairing as this coin. There is a short star to
star die crack that passes through the top of the L in LIBERTY.
Another, longer crack passes from the bottom of the L through the top of the
torch and on to the B. On the reverse, a long, near-vertical crack
passes through the eagle's beak, and a very short one is seen from above the
eagle's eye that crosses the adjoining ray.
As is the case with the other known 1927-D Double Eagles, the luster and
color are superb on this specimen. The surface is heavily frosted,
showing a rich, variegated orange gold color. The strike is complete
in all areas as well. Post-striking impairments are minimal, which is
clearly revealed in the grade assigned by NGC as well as the photographs we
have taken of it. Identifying marks include a single short abrasion
through two upper rays just to the left of the end of the torch.
Among 20th century U.S. coins there are any number of issues that can be
termed "rare" when what is actually meant is
"desirable." The 1927-D Double Eagle is a coin that truly
earns the title of "rare." Virtually every noteworthy
collection of the past fifty years has lacked an example and there are
precious few sets of Saint-Gaudens twenties today that can be classified as
complete, including the 1927-D. This is a truly rare opportunity for
the advanced collector since only a couple of examples of the issue are
offered each decade. (Housed in NGC holder 557109-001)"
Sources and/or recommended
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2005" by The
Professional Coin Grading Service
Q. David Bowers, "The
Joys of Collecting", COIN WORLD, November 29, 1999, page 44