Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 686,750
Catalog: KM-74.2
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4360g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1156.65 (12/21/2014)
Diameter: 34mm
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1869 S $20 MS obverse 1869 S $20 MS reverse


  
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Description & Analysis

The year 1869 was quite memorable when Jay Gould and James 'Jubilee Jim' Fisk created quite a stir in the gold market. President Lincoln had partially financed the Northern war effort by issuing greenbacks (paper) currency. Gold had generally disappeared from circulation during the 1860s and continued in hiding well afterward, even as far west as San Francisco. As prices slowly returned to normal after the war and more coins returned to circulation Gould and Fisk decided it might be fruitful to attempt to corner the market for gold. Normally, the huge gold bullion holdings of the United States Treasury were used to keep the price of gold stable. Nevertheless speculators Gould and Fisk employed various friends and acquaintances to have President U. S. Grant hold the Treasury's gold off the market, giving them a chance to push up the price of gold. Grant was led to believe that long suffering farmers were unable to sell their home grown grain overseas as the price of gold was too low, so increasing it a bit might make local grain more competitive. Gould and Fisk bought highly leveraged positions in gold, hoping to cash in on the quick rise in the price of gold. At that time speculators could leverage about 100 to 1, in other words they could own 100 ounces of gold for every 1 ounce they purchased on paper. Naturally, just a small move in the price of gold the wrong direction would wipe out their holdings, but if they were correct, then millions could be quickly made in the market. Unsuspecting Grant cooperated for a brief time, and the highly leveraged Gould and Fisk made paper fortunes. The price of gold rose steadily into September, 1869. The Gould and Fisk scheme seemed to be working, but then President Grant found out the true motivation of his 'friends' and he immediately authorized gold bullion to be sold by the Treasury. This happened on September 24, 1869, a date which became known as 'Black Friday'. The price of gold collapsed back to levels seen before the corner was attempted. Many gold speculators were wiped out, and Gould and Fisk had to move on to other ventures.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 11/15/2014

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1869 S $20 MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1650 1675 1750 1800 2000 2000 2350 2750 4500 6500 12500 19750 29500 52500 82500 - - - - - -
$ 2200 - - - 7750 - - - - - - - - -
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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1288
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64


Upcoming Auctions

A random selection of NGC coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
1/12/2015 MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2015 January 7 - 12 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Session(7), 1216/Lot# 7474
1/12/2015 AU 58   Heritage Auctions 2015 January 7 - 12 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando Session(7), 1216/Lot# 7473


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
3/21/1998 NGC XF 45   Heritage Auctions 1998 Mid-Winter ANA Signature Sale #184, 184/Lot# 6568 $977.50
12/12/2005 NGC AU 50   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet-Only Auction #66, 71/Lot# 1056 $920.00
12/31/2006 PCGS AU 53   Teletrade Auction 2306, 2306/Lot# 2005 $1,344.00
5/27/2012 PCGS XF 45   Goldberg May 27-31, 2012 The May Pre-Long Beach Auction, 69/Lot# 2080 $1,897.50
7/21/2013 NGC AU 55   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 07/21/2013, 84/Lot# 129857 $2,640.00
4/1/2014 NGC XF 40   Stack's Bowers March 2014 Baltimore Auction, 6008/Lot# 8105 $1,527.50
10/31/2014 PCGS MS 92   Stack's Bowers November Baltimore 2014, 6039/Lot# 5471 $3,818.75


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1869 S $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base593665745831925105912671450223326143080334544315747713890071597924221371845775590669134561
617691773862969112813281711236027693168370748696210776111331187262854244041687261052990
000000132817112360276931683707486962107761113311872628542440416872600
000000138919722487292432564069530866748384136552147332863508987969700
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 55
Points: 2614
Owner: ftrifilio5
 
Grade: AU 53
Points: 2233
Owner: Brewzz
 
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