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1889-S $20 NGC MS61 Prooflike posted by Grandman

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

One of eight 1889-S double eagles designed prooflike by NGC.


I usually write a journal entry when I add a new coin to the Grandview Collection of Liberty Double Eagles. Today, however, I am writing about a coin that has been in my collection for several years, but was recently crossed over to a new holder.


As a collector of prooflike gold, I prefer coins that are designated prooflike by NGC. On rare occasions in the past, I have purchased coins that I considered prooflike in PCGS holders. About three years ago, I purchased an 1889-S $20 in a PCGS MS62 holder. The coin had reflective fields and nicely contrasting frosty devices, especially on the obverse. I was nearly certain the coin would receive the PL designation if submitted to NGC, and it would be a nice score, even though I paid a 50% premium over a typical PCGS MS62 at the time.


In September, I finally submitted the 1889-S $20 PCGS MS62 to NGC. Since I was nearly certain the coin would be designated prooflike, I indicated cross at any grade on the submission form. Several weeks later, the coin was graded and as expected the coin was awarded the PL designation, though it received a lower grade from NGC--it was in an MS61 PL holder. I was a surprised that it downgraded to a 61, but happy that it is now in a PL holder. The obverse fields have deep mirrors, and a few shallow scattered marks in front of the portrait which was likely the reason for the 61 grade, however, I believe the MS62 grade is more fitting for this coin.


NGC has designed 8 - 1889-S double eagles as PL with 7 graded MS61 and the remaining coin an MS62. Among non-PL 1889-S $20s, NGC has graded 1733 coins in all grades. Thus, for all double eagles graded by NGC, the percentage of prooflike coins is 0.46% (based on October 2013 Census data).


It is surprising that the NGC Registry scoring system does not take into account the relative or absolute rarity of this date in prooflike condition. The reduction in Registry points going from MS62 (2124) to MS61 PL (1345) is 779 points. The number of certified coins and registry points are listed below for reference. Interestingly, in other series, eg, Morgan dollars, PL coins can have much higher scores than non-PL coins of the same date.


1889-S $20 NGC MS62 Non-PL (525 in MS62 with 113 finer): Registry Score 2124

1889-S $20 NGC MS61 PL (7 in MS61 PL with 1 finer): Registry Score 1345

1889-S $20 NGC MS61 Non-PL (658 in MS61 with 638 finer): Registry Score 1271


Images of the 1889-S double eagle from Grandview Collection are below. The coin is shown in its original PCGS holder and NGC holder with the PL designation.




Grandview Collection




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You really should present your argument for a higher point value for your coin to NGC. You make a solid case for a higher point value and there is a very good chance that NGC may agree.

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