Coin Specifications

Category: Liberty Head $20 (1850-1907)
Mint: San Francisco
Mintage: 686,750
Obverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Reverse Designer: James B. Longacre
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 33.4400g
AGW: 0.9675oz
Melt Value: $1732.03 (11/28/2020)
Diameter: 34mm
Edge: Reeded
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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: 11/28/2020

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1869 S $20 MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 1855 1855 1855 1875 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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: 1506
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 64

The chart showing F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 11/24/2020 1869 S $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---1127725117323537730022361723------1506
-----------------------
--------1---13--------5
-----------------------
Total---1127725117323637730022372023------1511
 ---0%1%5%17%11%16%25%20%1%2%1%0%0%------ 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1869 S $20 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base179922332250226823352464252526712885363941725656654581539756114131597924221371845775590669134561
19442239225622902378248425742742313638174667595270818687103081293518726285424404168726105300141289
0000002574274231363817466759527081868710308129351872628542440416872600
0000002622281433883994516162497617922210861144572147432863508987969800
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 55
Points: 3639
Owner: John H Erickson
 
Grade: AU 55
Points: 3639
Owner: karl mullineaux
 
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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

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.