Carson City $20 Double Eagles
Carson City $20 Double Eagles
Carson City gold coins are among the most alluring and intriguing items in American numismatics. They boast an exciting combination of extreme rarity and fascinating history. Indeed, all coins struck at the Nevada branch mint are both scarce and desirable due to their connection to the Wild West.
While any Carson City (CC) mintmarked coin is valuable, the gold coins from this mint are exceedingly rare across the board. Like most branch mints, the Carson City facility was established because precious metals were being mined in the area. Silver was the primary metal extracted from the earth in Nevada; relatively little gold was found in the vicinity. Thus, miniscule numbers of Carson City gold coins were struck.
All Carson City gold coins are hard to find and are avidly sought by numismatists. They are almost never seen in a large quantity. This is what makes this month’s Spotlight coin so special. We have acquired a highly unusual, if not unprecedented, cache of Carson City $20 Double Eagles. Every coin in this group is a CC-mintmarked $20 gold piece dated between 1874 and 1893. Each specimen grades at least Extremely Fine 40 and is certified by PCGS or NGC. Rarely, if ever, will one stumble upon a group of CC gold coins – let alone a hoard of problem-free $20 Double Eagles. This is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary offerings we’ve made available in our Spotlight coin program.
Just as the California Gold Rush led to the San Francisco Mint’s creation, the discovery of Nevada silver precipitated the Carson City Mint. In particular, the massive Comstock Lode created immense fortunes for prospectors in Nevada. It was first identified by two veterans of the California Gold Rush in 1857, but a miner named Henry Comstock was one of the first to lay claim to the area. Word of the massive discovery spread quickly and Northern Nevada exploded in population.
A problem soon arose - what should be done with the massive amount of silver extracted from the earth? Nevada was truly isolated from the rest of the nation, which made selling and refining the silver difficult. The closest major population center was San Francisco, but transporting metal to California was logistically challenging and treacherous. Railroads had not yet reached Nevada, so the only way to move metal was via horse or mule.
Finally, in 1863, Congress authorized the establishment of a branch mint in Carson City. Unlike in San Francisco, where the new branch mint opened extremely quickly, construction of the Carson City Mint dragged on for years. The facility eventually opened with just one solitary coin press in 1870. Not surprisingly, the very first coin struck at Carson City was a silver dollar – a reflection of the tremendous quantity of silver available in the area. Indeed, for the mint’s entire history, the primary focus was on issuing silver coins instead of gold.
The earliest Carson City gold coins are wildly rare and extremely valuable. For example, in 1870, only 3,789 Double Eagles were issued at the branch mint – and just several dozen are known to collectors today. They routinely sell for hundreds of thousands each.
The Carson City Mint also began producing $5 Half Eagles and $10 Eagles for circulation, but in relatively limited quantities. The number of coins struck was purely a function of how much gold was mined in the area. With silver being the primary metal extracted in Nevada, there was only a small amount of gold ore available for coinage.
The Carson City Mint continued operations until 1893, when the mining bonanza began to end. The “low-hanging fruit” was completely spoken for by that point, and remaining mineral deposits were either too difficult to access or commercially unviable. Some silver and gold was recovered from the Comstock Lode in the 20th century, but only as a result of new technologies and dramatically higher bullion prices. Whereas hundreds of mining companies existed in the mid to late 19th century, just a few were in existence by the 1920s and 1930s.
In the end, Carson City gold coins were struck for just a brief period of time. The $20 Double Eagles were issued for a grand total of 19 years: 1870-1879, 1882-1885 and 1889-1893. You will notice the gaps in production; this was due to limited availability of raw gold in the area. Mintages were always small, especially in comparison to the major quantities issued in Philadelphia and San Francisco. There is no such thing as a common CC Double Eagle; every date is rare and valuable. The only question is whether they are worth thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars!
A review of NGC’s population data shows how wildly scarce Carson City $20s truly are. Of the 687,799 Liberty Double Eagles graded by NGC, under 17,000 pieces are CC-mintmarked. On average, each Carson City Double Eagle issue has a population of under 1,000 pieces. Compare this to the 1904 $20 Double Eagle, of which literally hundreds of thousands of pieces exist. Our research indicates that just 1-2% of all Double Eagles still in existence bear the Carson City mintmark.
Not only are all Carson City $20s rare, but they tend to be heavily worn, cleaned and abraded. These coins were almost never stashed away into bank vaults; Carson City gold coins entered directly into circulation. Thus, Uncirculated specimens are extremely difficult to source, and always trade for five-figure amounts. High-grade Mint State coins are essentially non-existent. Other than an incredible 1871-CC graded MS64, which sold for over $400,000 in 2008, we have not seen a CC $20 graded above MS63 in the past decade.
The Current Offering
We are pleased to offer a remarkable cache of 27 Carson City Double Eagles, all graded Extremely Fine 40 or better by PCGS or NGC. Each coin is dated between 1874 and 1893.
(27) Carson City $20 Double Eagle - Call for pricing and details!*
Most Carson City gold coins exhibit major flaws, detracting marks and signs of cleaning – but these specimens are exceptional for their quality. The coins display virtually full design detail, have clean surfaces and unusually strong eye appeal. In a series beset with problem coins and low-end pieces, these Double Eagles are uncommonly well-preserved.
We have sold countless Liberty Double Eagles over the years, but never before have we encountered a group of CC $20s like this. Typically, we see just one or two coins at a time, but to find a quantity of 27 pieces in one place, is virtually unheard of. Given their rarity and tiny population figures, we’re surprised that Carson City Double Eagles aren’t worth substantially more; in the low $4,000s they represent outstanding value. We can think of many coins worth tens of thousands each that are easier to find and more readily available.
Please call one of our Preferred Client Relations representatives today at 800-831-0007 to order your Carson City $20 Double Eagle. This cache might be large by Carson City standards, but it won’t satisfy demand from our client base. We encourage you to act quickly; these coins will find new homes in a very short period of time.
*Prices are subject to change due to market fluctuation and product availability. Price includes free shipping, handling and insurance.