1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle

The Pitman Act of 1918 authorized the conversion of up to 350 million standard silver dollars into bullion for the purpose of resale or minting into subsidiary silver coinage. Under the Act, 270 million silver dollars were melted down, and from that, more than 95% of the bullion was sold to Great Britain to stabilize finances in the British Empire during World War I.(1)

The Pitman Act also mandated the purchase of domestic supplies of silver for coining into a quantity of silver dollars equal to what had been melted according to the provisions of the Act.

That is why in 1921, the Bureau of the Mint committed much of its manufacturing capacity to silver dollar production. The output of the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints totaled nearly 87 million Morgan dollars in 1921.(2)

At the same time, mintage of other coin denominations fell off considerably. In fact, no gold coins anywhere were struck until late in the year, when federal officials determined more gold was needed in the Treasury reserves. In November, 90,000 examples of 1921 Saint-Gaudens $20 double eagles were delivered, followed by another 438,500 in December for a sum of 528,500 pieces for the year 1921.

The entire population of 1921 double eagles was controlled securely by the Treasury Department. Numismatic researcher Dr. Charles W. Green learned only 25 examples exited the Mint through proper channels. A small number of additional coins found their way unofficially into private hands through connections between Treasury officials and bankers.(3)

On April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102. Often recognized as the Gold Recall of 1933, the order severely limited ownership of gold in the United States.(4)

Everyone was mandated to surrender to the Federal Reserve most gold coins, bullion, and gold certificates by May 1 in exchange for $20.67 per troy ounce. The objective of the Gold Recall was to prevent hoarding.

Roosevelt’s action sealed the fate of the 1921 double eagles still under government control. With the exception of the tiny number that escaped, the full mintage was melted into gold bars and stored at Fort Knox in Kentucky.(5)

Despite an ample original quantity, a mere 145 examples of the 1921 Saint-Gaudens double eagle are all that are estimated to remain today.(6)

The late David Akers, a renowned gold coin specialist, once described the 1921 as "the unrivaled 'Queen' of the Saint-Gaudens series."(7) To be perfectly clear, Akers was referring to the date in high Mint State condition. Given the history, rarity, collector appeal, and enviable price performance, why not bestow that royal title to this beautiful coin across all grades?

Estimated survivors in all grades: 145
? 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.
Learn more at PCGS.
PCGS Rarity Scale: 7.5
? 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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1921 St. Gaudens $20 Double Eagle Extremely rare 1921 St. Gaudens $20 double eagle
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Last updated 9-17-23
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1. Cochran, Steven.  Morgan Silver Dollars – A Short History on the Pittman Act.  Ormond Beach, FL.  CoinWeek.  Oct 9, 2013.

2. Heritage Auctions.  1921 $20.  Aug 2012 Auction.

3. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1921 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle.  Aug 2020 Auction.

4. Wikipedia.  Executive Order 6102.

5. Heritage Auctions.  1921 $20.  Aug 2012 Auction.

6. PCGS.  1921 $20 (Regular Strike).

7. Heritage Auctions.  1921 $20 PR64+.  Aug 2021 Auction.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.