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Carson City Double Eagles

Posted on: 2016-01-07




 The first year of coinage operations for the Carson City mint was 1870, which continued to strike Liberty Head double eagles until 1893 - in addition to subordinate silver and gold denominations – with breaks of non-activity during the years of 1880 and 1881 and then from 1886 through 1888. In all, there are 19 different $20 Liberty double eagle issues minted. Interestingly, the combined total mintage of all Carson City double eagles totals just 864,128 pieces. In fact, 10 of the Carson City double eagles are represented in the top 25 double eagles having the lowest mintages.

Carson City double eagles can be divided into three groups, based upon original mintage, the estimated number to have survived, certified population records and published prices. 

The first group contains only one coin – the 1870-CC issue. When production began, only 3,789 gold double eagles were made in 1870 by the Carson City mint, creating an instant rarity the day they left the mint. It appears as though many have been melted since then, as a combined total of only 58 coins have been certified by both PCGS and NGC and reliable estimates place the number of survivors in the vicinity of 40-45 pieces. This issue remains prohibitively rare, and is difficult and quite expensive to acquire, so it has been left out of our price analysis since information on value is specialized and difficult to come by. 

The second group consists of those issues that are Rare to Very Rare and includes the 1871-CC, 1872-CC, 1873-CC, 1878-CC, 1879-CC, 1885-CC and 1891-CC. These seven issues have an average mintage of 15,000 coins each, with an average certified total of only 495 coins per issue. Not a whole lot to go around! The mint increased production of the double eagles from 1871 through 1873 to an average of slightly more than 22,000 coins per year. Thereafter, it seemed that during the period after 1873, the Carson City was only interested in producing as many of the larger denominations as they could manufacture (1874-1876). Then, however, in 1877, mintages for all gold coins dropped off and we find that production was seriously curtailed beginning in 1878, when all of the mints, especially Carson City, were primarily occupied with the production of silver dollars as a result of the Bland-Allison Act.  

The production of double eagles ceased during the years of 1880 and 1881, when the Carson City mint was only concerned with issuing the smaller gold $10 eagle and $5 half eagle denominations. Production of double eagles commenced again in 1882 and continued strong until 1885, when gold and silver minting operations of that mint were again suspended, but not until 9,450 double eagles were created – and no other gold coins – again creating a rare issue. The cessation of operations was due to the extreme expense of coinage in comparison to the benefits. According to the mint director, costs were as high as 18% of the value of local deposits in 1885. At the time, Carson City was hardly a large city, with a population of only about 4,000 people, and overall population in the state was declining.

1891 was an odd year for the mint, as it produced only 5,000 double eagles that year – the second lowest mintage of the entire series – while the production of the smaller gold denominations of $10 eagles and $5 half eagles was in fact, the highest for those issues. The 1891 is a very rare issue today.

The third group are generally the least expensive of all the Carson City double eagles.

We need to offer another perspective on this coin group, however, as the word “common” is really not that practical as a description. While the “common” date coins for the entire Liberty double eagle series have a certified population on average of well-over 10,000 coins for most grades, the Carson City coins in the third group have an average total certified population of less than 500 coins each! 

Demand for these coins far out-weighs the available supply, so we are not surprised to see that these coins have increased in value over the long-term.

CONCLUSION: Carson City double eagle issues are almost always in demand, are highly collectible and extremely liquid at any given time in a market cycle. Call Coin Trader Now @ 866.603.1938 to get started.

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