Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 120,000
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1723.43 (11/30/2020)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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1866 S NO MOTTO $20 MS obverse 1866 S NO MOTTO $20 MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

Communication between the West Coast and the Atlantic states was slow at best during the early years of the San Francisco Mint, and when policies or designs changed, the California facility often did not receive word for at least a month. This led to situations where San Francisco began production of a series, only to change course soon after. Today?s collector can recognize these events, the most famous being the 1861-S Paquet Reverse double eagles, which San Francisco struck satisfactorily and released before it was informed that the Paquet dies were, in the judgment of Philadelphia officials, unusable.

The occurrence with the most far-reaching consequences, however, took place in 1866. After the debut of IN GOD WE TRUST on the nation?s coinage with the two cent piece of 1864, Philadelphia proceeded with plans to place the motto on dies for the five cent nickel issue and the larger-diameter silver and gold coins. While Philadelphia delayed production of 1866 pieces for the denominations in question until the reverse dies were ready, San Francisco proceeded with production of No Motto coins until it received the With Motto reverse dies. This resulted in two distinct varieties of 1866-S coins for the half dollar, half eagle, eagle, and double eagle.

While the 1866-S No Motto double eagle is clearly the more elusive of the two issues, its mintage and distribution remain enigmatic. While many sources, including the Guide Book and Doug Winter and Adam Crum?s An Insider?s Guide to Collecting Type I Double Eagles, claim a mintage of just 12,000 pieces, Garrett and Guth, in their 2006 volume Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, state an estimate of 120,000 coins. This latter figure is in agreement with research conducted by R.W. Julian, and the value is logical, with the With Motto reverse dies not arriving at San Francisco until March, that Mint had an ample window for a six-figure production, even if striking only took place in February, as stated by Winter and Crum. The mintage for the later With Motto pieces, in excess of 840,000 pieces, offers further circumstantial evidence.

The total population of survivors, however, tells a different story. Garrett and Guth give their assessment: ?There are probably no more than 200 examples known in all grades.? The episode of the Paquet double eagles may offer insight, when Philadelphia notified San Francisco that the Paquet reverse should not be used and any struck examples were to be destroyed, officials there replied that while they could stop using the Paquet dies and melt the struck pieces they had on hand, San Francisco had already released a number of Paquet double eagles and could not recall them. It is entirely possible that not all of the 1866-S No Motto double eagles struck were paid out, and if some of those coins never left the Mint, the anomalously low survival rate for the 1866-S No Motto twenties makes much more sense.

While the past remains speculative, the present-day truth remains that this issue is challenging in any condition, and a near-Mint example such as the present piece is a precious prize.

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: 8/26/2020

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1866 S NO MOTTO $20 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 3500 5000 7500 13500 26000 32500 42000 80000 120000 157500 200000 295000 - - - - - - - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 168
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 50
High Grade: 61

The chart showing F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 11/24/2020 1866 S NO MOTTO $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---1112733263024745---------168
-----------------------
----------1-----------1
-----------------------
Total---1112733263024845---------169
 ---1%7%16%20%15%18%14%5%2%3%--------- 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1866 S NO MOTTO $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base27543009363946046169754382939122991812279137621525217027186512556440714653866738369425715127364675826
283932193961512666277793856993871070512773142591584417568209553061448938660526806470121722237437379617
0000008569938710705127731425915844175682095530614489386605268064701217222300
0000008846965311492132681475516435181102326035664571626671768744708167293500
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 53
Points: 9918
Owner: John H Erickson
 
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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.