The date of January 1, 1879 was widely anticipated across the United States. The passage of the Specie Resumption Act on January 14, 1875 designated the first day of 1879 for the federal government to begin exchanging Civil War-era paper money dubbed “Greenbacks” for gold coinage.(1)
From the time the Act became law, there was concern of a major gold run starting on the redemption date. To brace for the expected crush of Greenback exchange, the Treasury stockpiled $142 million in gold coins reserves. This was less than half the $347 million issued in Greenbacks (technically called Legal Tender Notes) from 1862-1865.(2)
As the redemption date approached, Greenbacks rose in value relative to gold and eventually reached the point they were valued on par with gold (i.e., they were “as good as gold”).
January 1 was a holiday, so the actual first date of redemption was January 2, 1879. The massive clamoring for gold exchange feared earlier did not materialize. The subtreasury office in New York reported at the end of the first day they had issued only $135,000 in gold coins in exchange for Greenbacks. Because they had reached parity with gold, the public preferred the convenience of paper money over gold and largely did not bother to redeem the Greenbacks.
Since gold coins would not be necessary in the huge quantities previously anticipated, production of the double eagle denomination at the Carson City Mint was deprioritized in 1879. Mintage tumbled to just 10,708 pieces.
During the 1870’s, double eagles were struck in considerable quantities at Philadelphia and San Francisco, with quite a few of them exported to Europe and elsewhere. The few 1879-CC double eagles that were struck were released into regional commerce and circulated heavily for many years – a repeated theme for so many coins issued from the renowned Nevada branch mint.(3)
The 1879-CC Coronet $20 double eagle is yet another entry in the parade of Carson City Mint coins with a long record of skyrocketing price performance. It is easy to understand why this is so: the numismatic energy for the 1879-CC is fueled by the traditional Law of Supply vs. Demand.
|Estimated survivors in all grades: 574
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
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|PCGS Rarity Scale: 5.8
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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