1870-CC Liberty Head Double Eagle: PCGS Coin of the Month

1870-CC Liberty Head double eagle, PCGS VF25 obverse. Courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service TrueView.

The Liberty Head double eagle 1870-CC is the Professional Grading Service’s (PCGS) Coin of the Month (PCGS VF25).

One of the rarest of all Liberty Head double eagles is the 1870-CC, the first-year issue for this coin from the Carson City Mint in Nevada. While all coins from the Carson City Mint are considerably scarce, this 1870-dated $20 gold coin is especially remarkable due to its low mintage and the far smaller number of survivors. This sought-after rarity saw a mintage of just 3,789 coins and Professional Coin Grading Service estimates only 41 survive, making this one of the most elusive of all regular-issue gold coins. None are known to have been saved for numismatic purposes, making even better-circulated specimens extremely challenging to locate. When it comes to buying the 1870-CC double eagle, beggars can’t be choosers. Those who want an example will be best taking those that appear on the scarce occasions when one comes up for bids.

1870-CC Liberty Head double eagle, PCGS VF25 reverse. Courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service TrueView.

What makes this 1870-CC double eagle so hard to locate? For one, the original price. Only the richest of collectors could afford to hold aside a coin with a face value of $20 in the early 1870s, and those who had the financial means weren’t necessarily interested in branch-mint issues. Until around the turn of the 20th century, collectors generally preferred collecting coins from the “mother mint” in Philadelphia, leaving many high-mintage branch-mint coins with few survivors in the better grades. Of course, the 1870-CC double eagle was already a rare bird from the outset, and with all going into circulation it is little surprise that but a fraction of the original production run survives in collectible condition. The majority of examples hover in the range of Very Fine to Extremely Fine, with none grading in Mint State and the choicest survivors in the About Uncirculated range.

Interestingly, the rarity of this Carson City issue became prevalent to collectors relatively early on. For example, in 1911, when the 1870-CC double eagle was just 41 years old, the coin was already recognized as “rare” in an auction where the coin fetched $24.50 – at the time about the going rate for a double eagle of such status. Premiums for the coin began increasing during the mid-20th century as greater knowledge about the scarcity of this Carson City Mint coin increased and demand also grew.

An example graded PCGS About Uncirculated-53 sold for $1,600,000 in a 2021 sale, blowing away many expectations. Meanwhile, this even circulated Very Fine-25 specimen with sharp strike and original surfaces hammered for an astonishing $324,000 in a January 2022 Heritage Auctions sale.

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