1913 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle

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Reverse of the 1913 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, PCGS PR66. Courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service TrueView.

The 1913 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, PCGS PR 66 is the Professional Grading Service's (PCGS) Coin of the Month.

There’s no scientific study, poll, or data to support this claim, but it’s likely that if most American coin collectors were given the choice to own just one pre-1933 gold coin, they would choose the iconic Saint-Gaudens double eagle. It’s a coin that many claim to represent the epitome of U.S. coin design, a claim given to a coin most deserving, one that is often boasted as the most beautiful numismatic work ever struck by the United States Mint. While these are all subjective superlatives, one look at the coin and many would agree, there is simply no other coin like it – not in United States numismatics and probably not even that of the entire world.

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Obverse of the 1913 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, PCGS PR66. Courtesy of Professional Coin Grading Service TrueView.

As a series, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle offers an impressive array of challenges for collectors. Surely this is so when looking at the absolute key dates, including the 1907 Ultra High Relief, 1920-S, 1921, 1926-D, 1927-D, 1931-D, 1932-D, and of course the 1933 – the latter becoming the most valuable coin ever when the single privately owned specimen sold in 2021 for more nearly $18.9 million. But then there are the proofs – and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to the rarity of these gorgeous, large gold coins in special proof state.

Collectors absolutely adore proof Saint-Gaudens double eagles. There’s an unmatched and resplendent beauty these coins have that no other numismatic treasure before or since has carried. Is it the design? The heft? The legacy? It could be all these and beyond, including the extremely low number of proof Saint-Gaudens double eagles struck. The mintage of the 1913 Saint-Gaudens double eagle was just 58 pieces, and perhaps just 30 to 40 of those survive. The 1913 Saint-Gaudens proof double eagles carry a handsome sandblast finish, giving it a distinctive matte appearance. The matte finish wasn’t necessarily popular with collectors of the day, but in the generations since it has become a prized attribute – something that stirs collectors with whiffs of novelty and vintage allure, unseen today on modern coins in just this way.

One outstanding example of the 1913 Saint-Gaudens double eagle traded hands in an August 2021 Stack’s Bowers Galleries sale and stunned bidders with Proof-66 surfaces – simply immaculate by every measure. This beautiful coin representing the highest grade ever obtained for this issue by PCGS was a showstopper when it crossed the block, garnering enthusiastically mounting bids until the hammer dropped at a record price of $336,000.

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