We wish we had a gold dollar for every time we have thought, "If only this coin could talk!" Well, this one -- a 1921 double eagle, graded AU53 by NGC -- practically does. It tells a fascinating story:
The consignor is a young man in Eastern Europe who wants a copy of the printed auction catalog for his grandmother. His great-grandmother's family obtained the coin originally from a relative who sent or brought it back from America in the 1920s. The family retained the coin over the years, even after the Communist government, decades later, made it a high crime to hold onto anything made of gold. The consignor's great-grandmother and grandmother courageously held on to the coin to benefit their family, possibly facing the risk of a long prison term.
When Communism fell in the country, the grandmother passed the double eagle on to her grandson, a young electrician. He learned English in school and is the first generation of his family to have internet access. The young man found an online coin forum where someone suggested that he contact Heritage Galleries to see if his coin is genuine and, if so, to sell it for him.
Lacking the money for a trip to one of Heritage's American offices, the young man contacted Heritage via the internet. Managing to catch a ride with a friend who was driving to the German Rhineland, he set up a visit with a Heritage representative at the office of a local coin dealer in Düsseldorf with whom Heritage is on friendly terms.
The young man still feared that the piece might be a fake, but the Heritage agent assured him that the coin was genuine and that he had seen more than a million U.S. gold coins in his career, including a dozen or so 1921 double eagles -- no fear of "bad news" down the line.
Given the grim economic situation in his home country, Heritage offered generous terms for the consignment. We encourage active bidding on this piece, as this memorable story attaches to it; in addition, the coin is an extremely attractive specimen in its own right. We have written many times about the tens of thousands of American double eagles "repatriated from Europe" over the decades, but this piece carries one of the most heartwarming tales of such a coin we have ever encountered.
About This Coin
The 1921 Saint-Gaudens twenty is a rarity of considerable proportion within the series, and this AU53 piece poses an important opportunity worthy of careful consideration for collectors who desire completeness on a budget, insofar as possible. Some light field chatter and a few abrasions dot the orange-gold surfaces, with minor high-point rub consistent with the grade and a short spell in circulation. Much pleasing detail remains, and the sharp strike and good luster are pluses.
The Internet Changes Everything
Until the consignor looked up this coin on the internet, no one in his family had the slightest idea that their 1921-dated twenty dollar gold piece was a very rare date. The consignor's great-grandmother, grandmother, and now he saved the piece as the family's only gold coin all these years and generations, strictly because of its large size. He was the first to research it and find, to his amazement, that it was not just a common 30-gram (net) gold coin, but a major rarity in the U.S. Saint-Gaudens double eagle series. We wish the consignor and his family (and its future owner) every success.
To be sold in the Heritage June Long Beach Auction as Lot# 5218