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1901 $20 NGC MS62 Prooflike posted by Grandman

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

One of Only Three 1901 Double Eagles Designated Prooflike by NGC.


With each interesting new acquisition for the Grandview Collection of Liberty Double Eagles in 2014, I plan to describe the coin and relevant background information with a journal post.




If you have seen my Registry set of Liberty Double Eagles, you probably know that I prefer prooflike examples over coins with typical frosty surfaces. When turning a PL coin under a light, the reflective fields and contrasting devices are extremely attractive, however, in images the reflective surfaces tend to exaggerate even minor surface abrasions. Prooflike coins offer an alternative to proofs which were produced in small quantities and are very expensive in today's market.




I recently purchased a prooflike 1901 $20, which was graded MS62 PL by NGC. The coin has reflective fields on both the obverse and reverse which accounts for its PL designation, along with moderately contrasting frosty devices. The coin was graded MS62 by NGC due to the scattered marks, which are exaggerated by the contrast against the reflective fields. The only singular abrasion which catches the eye under close examination is a shallow scrape near the chin. The strike is excellent on this coin providing sharp detail throughout, but is especially obvious on the hair, coronet and stars.




The 1901 double eagle is legitimately rare in prooflike condition. NGC has graded a total of 4939 coins with only 3 designated as PL. This amounts to a minuscule percentage of 0.06% of all coins of this date graded by NGC. The highest grade among the PL examples is MS63 (based on August 2014 NGC Census data).




As I have mentioned in previous journal posts, I am surprised that the NGC Registry scoring system does not take into account the relative or absolute rarity of double eagles in prooflike or deep prooflike condition. The number of certified coins and registry points are listed below for reference. Interestingly, in other series, eg, Morgan dollars, scarce PL coins can have much higher scores than non-PL coins of the same date.




1901 $20 NGC MS62 Non-PL (1065 in MS62): Registry Score 1028


1901 $20 NGC MS63 Non-PL (1659 in MS63): Registry Score 1200


1901 $20 NGC MS64 Non-PL (1381 in MS64): Registry Score 1683


1901 $20 NGC MS64+ Non-PL (16 in MS64+): Registry Score 2040


1901 $20 NGC MS65 Non-PL (300 in MS65): Registry Score 2754




1901 $20 NGC MS62 PL (2 in MS62 PL with 1 finer in PL): Registry Score 1091




In MS62, a non-PL coin has a Registry score of 1028 points, while a PL example receives only an extra 63 points, but it is more than 1500x's rarer according to NGC census data.




The amount of Registry points received for PL designated coins is out-of-touch with market values. The MS62 PL commands a higher price than non-PL coins graded higher by 2 points. However, while the price of a MS62 PL and MS64+ non-PL are approximately equal, the Registry point difference is substantial (1091 versus 2040). In fact, I am replacing my previous 1901 in MS64+ non-PL with this MS62 PL example resulting in a reduction of 949 Registry points (though I consider it an upgrade).




Images of the 1901 PL double eagle from Grandview Collection are liked below. The coin is shown in its NGC holder with the PL designation. I have not submitted the coin to CAC for review.








Grandview Collection





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Plus you have the fact that a common MS62 $20 Lib. trades for around $1400 or so on a good day, while PLs are worth at least $500 more. Probably they could come up with a logical formula to assign reasonable registry scores based on greater rarity or scarcity of strike.


A guy today at a local show bought an ANACS OH MS61PL $10 Lib. at $700. Quite a buy and if he gets it into an NGC holder worth $500 plus more. PCGS does not PL those coins.

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Considering the size of dies and striking conditions, it is likely that the proportion of repaired and "proof-like" double eagles was similar to Morgan dollars.

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