David Akers (1975/88): The 1889-S is a relatively common date in any grade up to and including average uncirculated. It is similar in both overall rarity and condition rarity to the 1894-S, 1895-S, 1896-S, 1903-S and 1906-S. Choice uncirculated specimens are rather scarce and, of course, true gems are very scarce but this date is more available in Unc. than most S-Mints preceding it. Note: A very careful look at the auction data (pre-1970's) shows that at one time the 1889-S was very scarce, particularly in Unc. may important collections either lacked the date entirely or had only a circulated specimen. However, in the late 1960's and early 1970's many uncs were found in Europe and that is why the 1889-S is now comparatively common.
422 of the 1,427 coins in the Saddle Ridge Hoard of gold coins were 1889-S Double Eagles. Nearly 100 of those were Mint State and the quality was excellent. As a result, the PCGS Pop Report has swelled and nine examples were better than anything that had been known before. Where once the Finest Known was an MS64, now top honors go to a pair of PCGS MS65+s from the Saddle Ridge Hoard.