Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 48

Lot 1293

1873-CC $20 Liberty. PCGS graded MS-63. A marvelous well struck example exhibiting lustrous frosty mint surfaces with full mint bloom colors. Only 22,410 struck. To put it mildly, this is a boldly struck example of the rare Carson City Mint issue of 1873, a coin that exhibits lovely rose to reddish gold patina and has rolling "cartwheel" luster from edge to edge. A few blemishes are limited to three separated marks at Liberty's cheek. Also, there is some moderate abrasion on the reverse rim near 7 o'clock. In days gone by, $20 gold pieces weren't collected as numismatic items but were used simply and exclusively as bullion for payment of goods and services rendered or due. For some inexplicable reason, this gorgeous coin remained Uncirculated, pure, unsullied. How and why are best left to those who can read crystal balls, like the clumsy bobble-eyed Divinations witch in the popular Harry Potter stories!

Everybody with numismatic learning is cognizant of how difficult this date is to obtain. It turns out that 1873-CC was a very rare year for any coin denomination from Carson City. Collectors universally proclaim its importance. But what do we know of the year itself? Without some historical point of view, what is this, after all, but just another rare coin? Yet the '73-CC is a lot more than that. President Ulysses S. Grant was in his final term as President, struggling with the issues of Reconstruction in the East and South, fending off scandals in his administration, and having to come to terms with a sharp, hard Panic in the summer and fall of 1873. It was the age of rogues called Carpetbaggers. Railroad tycoons were picking the pockets of the unsuspecting taxpayers. President Grant probably already had the cancer which would end his life in 1885 -- one of the ravages of the war he had helped the Union to win. For numismatists today, of course, this important year signaled the passage of the Coinage Act of 1873, in which hard-money gold currency advocates of the time convinced Congress to demonetize silver. This, of course, was the reason Carson City would coin no silver dollars the next year (although the new Trade dollar would take its place in the coining presses, it was rarely in use in America itself but was for Asian export only). In the Western third of the country, which concerns us most here, railroads were snaking across the landscape. The year before (1872) a deadly plague attacked horses, killing or sickening millions of them (the long-forgotten Great Epizootic of 1872 as it was called back then). The invention of barbed wire was still a year off (1874) and the Indian Wars occupied the energies of William Tecumseh Sherman of the U.S. Army, a butcher to the last drop, which would soon engender blowback in the personage of a remarkable Native American commander who called himself Crazy Horse (1876). Verily, 1873 was a busy year! Place this 1873 Carson City double eagle rarity against those realities. It's a "real" coin, and not only part of a remarkable heritage -- but also a palpable image of the times themselves. To paraphrase a line from Indiana Jones: this coin isn't just passing through history, it IS history! Pop 1, finest graded at PCGS. NGC has graded one example with none higher. Here is a candidate for finest known (PCGS # 8968) .
Estimated Value $100,000 - 110,000.

Realized $112,125

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