David Akers (1975/88): This issue has long been recognized as one of the major rarities of 20th-century United States gold coins and it is even rare in EF or AU condition. The occasional Mint State piece that comes up for sale is usually a low grade one (MS-60 to 62), and above the most basic Mint State grades, the 1920-S eagle is extremely rare. Although I have ranked the 1920-S fourth in terms of rarity at the MS-64 or better level, this is only because there are so few in MS-64. Three superb quality specimens stand out above the rest, the Winner Delp coin now owned by Harry Bass, the Stack's June 1979 Sale coin now owned by Dr. Steven Duckor (both virtually perfect), and the Stack's October 1984 Sale coin now in the collection of a prominent Eastern collector. The Goddard specimen now owned by Dr. Thaine Price and the Eliasberg specimen purchased by Ed Trompeter are also solid gems. The Auction '85 specimen, the Harry Einstein specimen (now in my personal collection), and the Norweb specimen also have legitimate claims to full MS-65 status, and are high end MS-64 coins at the very least.
the typical specimen of the 1920-S is rather weakly struck, especially on the hair around Miss Liberty's ear and on the front curve of the eagle's wing and its trailing leg and claw and the arrows below it. On many specimens, RTY of LIBERTY is weak or even missing. Most specimens have a weak 19 in the date and on some the bottom half of the 2 is weak as well. (Some specimens are very sharply on the obverse, with full bold LIBERTY, but the reverse always has the weakness mentioned.) The surfaces are normally very frosty but in a very few instances they are slightly satiny. The color is generally excellent, usually rich orange or rose and greenish gold. The lustre is also typically very good on this issue.
Purchased by dealer Dennis Forgue for $3,500 from dealer Jerry Cohen of Abner Kreisberg Corporation at the April 1968 Central States convention in Detroit for Dr. William J. Blackwell, invoice included - Stack's 6/1979:571, $85,000 - Dr. & Mrs. Steven Duckor Collection - Heritage 3/2007:21345, $1,725,000 - Simpson Collection
William Thomas Michaels Collection - Stack's 1/2004:3028, $241,500 - Kutasi Collection - Heritage 1/2007:3187, $402,500 - Jim O'Neal Collection - Heritage 1/2009:3527, $431,250 - Bay State Collection - Heritage 7/2009:1311, $345,000 - Heritage 8/2012:5405, $329,000
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution
Goldbergs 6/2004:2618, $186,875