Jim Bisognani: A Double Life for This Double Eagle?

Posted on 2/10/2022

The collectible coin market gives some sticker shock; others see a green light to buy.

Since my last installment, I can confirm that Punxsutawney Phil witnessed his shadow, which according to folklore means another six weeks of winter. While I don’t normally subscribe to the whims of the overstuffed prognosticating rodent, almost immediately after Phil’s shadow sighting, we here in New Hampshire felt the full wrath of winter, including a mammoth blizzard and nighttime temperatures below zero.

A great portion of the US found itself in a deep freeze after Phil saw his shadow. Even Dallas, home of Heritage Auctions, had to send out an email weather alert to dealers that, in part, read:

“It’s a miserable 24 degrees in Dallas today with freezing rain and snow. We have been dealing with a winter storm in Dallas since Wednesday night. We had sleet, freezing rain and snow with temps under 20 degrees. This may not mean much to northerners, but it wreaks havoc in Dallas, as we have no equipment to deal with clearing roads here. Due to the storm, we have had no inbound or outbound FedEx, UPS, or Express Mail service.”


As I scroll the numismatic auction results, I tend to get a bit tingly and excited. You, my fellow coindexters, know what I am talking about. An exceptional coin appears and you wish it could be yours. A sharp strike, unparalleled luster or just an otherwise enticing look — these elements combined (at least for coindexters) do tend to raise one’s body temperature!

Those fabulous prices realized continue to fuel heated passions, with both buyers and sellers making a best-case scenario for what is next. I know anyone consigning coins to auction is doing very well. Still, there are those would-be consignors who may have qualms as to when to part with their coins.

Potential sellers wonder, “Is this too soon, should I hold out longer for even higher levels?” Would-be buyers are wondering, too: “Should I buy now, or wait as maybe the prices may come down soon?”

My friends, any market, even with the current incongruity we are witnessing, will balance out. In the meantime, collectors have voiced their concerns and frustrations. My fellow coindexter friend, James Sibley, hailing from a rather frigid Spring, Texas, shared the following with me after his attendance at the just concluded Houston Money show.

“Jim, I had just returned from the Houston Money Show where, for the first time since I started collecting coins again, I failed to purchase a single coin. When I asked myself ‘Why is that?’ the answer was immediate: Sticker shock. ... As with any type of collecting, what the collector enjoys most is the ‘hunt,’ looking for that next great object for his or her collection. Yet this pursuit doesn't come with a blank check for most people, unless of course you're a cyber or Silicon Valley billionaire. Which means most of us are very conscious of what we are willing to pay for a particular coin and, if we were active collectors prior to the COVID run-up, we see the double-digit increase in prices for most collectible coins to be a negative, not a positive, which leads to the ‘pulling back’ effect.”

I understand this learned friend’s opinion completely. I, too, have been aware of the surge in demand and prices, which has made it difficult for me to acquire a modest world coin or two for my collection. The prices for other collectibles — comic books, sports cards, celebrity autographs, movie memorabilia, etc. — are rising, as well. However, many collectors are not seeing a stop sign but a vivid green light and will gleefully take funds from their coffers and chase that nostalgic collectable from their youth or that elite or “special” coin for their prize.

A special prize?

Of the over 100 coins that realized over six figures at the Heritage FUN sale, one, perhaps overlooked coin generated considerable passion, noise and statement, not for what it is but perhaps what it may be!

Below is a 1907-D $20 Liberty graded by NGC in April 2016, which I believe appeared publicly for the first time in this year’s Heritage FUN Signature Auction.

1907-D $20 Liberty graded NGC MS 64★ PL sold by Heritage in January 2022
Click images to enlarge.

As the 1907-D $20 Liberty NGC MS 64★ PL (lot 4182) went live on January 14, 2022, the bid stood at $21,000, and through a flurry of activity immediately surged to $85,000! Another five “Heritage Live” bids brought the hammer to $110,000. Then with the buyer’s fee, the last of the $20 Liberty series realized $132,000.

To put this in prospective, according to the NGC Census, 20 coins dated 1907-D appear as PL. This includes three graded as PL 64 and the one PL 64★ and another graded MS 66 PL. For the record, a single coin is designated as DPL, occupying the MS 62 column.

The only other public sale of a 1907-D NGC MS 64 PL (the coin below) occurred last year at the April 2021 Heritage CSNS, where it brought $16,800. So the question is why did the 1907-D MS 64★ PL realize nearly 700% more than a virtually like-graded coin.

1907-D $20 graded NGC MS 64★ PL sold by Heritage in April 2021
Click images to enlarge.

Although I have not seen either coin in hand, from the high-resolution photos, I can easily see the extraordinary distinction and delineation in detail and appearance of the just-sold coin. Obviously, multiple bidders saw something special here. I have no idea if they actually viewed this coin in hand either.

One person who viewed the coin in person advised me, “In hand, the coin was quite special.”

A double life for this double eagle?

So, I decided to compare this MS 64★ PL with the Farouk 1907-D $20 NGC PF 62 (below), which realized $188,000 nine years ago. There is something very special about the 1907-D 64★ PL!

1907-D $20 graded NGC PF 62 and pedigreed to Farouk
Click images to enlarge.

I then went on to compare her with the 1907-D $20 NGC SP 62 that captured $176,250 at the ANA 2016 sale (below).

1907-D Liberty $20 graded NGC SP 62
Click images to enlarge.

Finally, I compared her with the 1907-D $20 Liberty NGC SP 65 that realized $180,153 at the Heritage Long Beach sale June 4, 2020. There do appear to be key similarities here and, in my estimation, from the available images, this NGC SP 65 coin and the MS 64★ PL both appear to be struck from the Proof die pair designated as JD-1.

1907-D Liberty graded NGC SP 65
Click images to enlarge.

One thing is obvious, the 1907-D MS 64★ PL has far superior detail and strike delineation when compared with the MS 64 PL which sold at CSNS last year. In fact, the detail and strike characteristics of the just-auctioned MS 64★ PL is on par with the Farouk Proof 62 and SP 62 and SP 65 coins.

In my opinion, visually, the MS 64★ PL possesses superior eye appeal over that trio. Now, whether the coin is some sort of “Special Striking” will be debated by the new owner and perhaps lead to a resubmission to NGC for a re-evaluation. Unquestionably, it is a sensational example of the $20 Liberty series, and it does have the “wow” factor, in more ways than one!

Until next time, be safe and happy collecting!

Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to the free NGC Weekly Market Report.

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.