1920-S $20 MS65 Certification #18231142, PCGS #9171
David Akers (1975/88)
The 1920-S is one of the top condition rarities of the entire series. In fact, it is the second rarest collectible issue, only slightly less rare than the 1921 and actually more rare than a 1927-D or 1907 Extremely High Relief in MS-64 or higher grade! The finest specimen I know of is in the Browning Collection held in trust by a Texas bank; it is virtually perfect in all respects with great color and lustre and bagmark-free, satiny surfaces. I graded it MS-67 when I saw it. Eliasberg's specimen (now owned by Dr. Steven Duckor) is another full gem as is the example in the collection of a prominent Eastern collector. Only a few others qualify as gems or near gems, including one in my personal collection graded "MS-64" by PCGS. There are far more collectors of high quality Saint-Gaudens $20s around than there are Mint State 1920-S double eagles, especially top quality ones.
The 1920-S is usually softly struck on the lower obverse near the rim, especially affecting the Capitol building and stars. However, it is generally sharp elsewhere. Lustre is typically very good to excellent. Most Mint State examples, particularly the higher grade ones, have excellent color, usually a rich orange color, often with traces of green and gold. The surfaces of some specimens have a beautiful satiny sheen, but most examples are frosty. On some examples, there is a peculiar, triangle shaped shiny spot that almost appears to be an abrasion near the reverse rim above the eagle's beak, but it is identical on all specimens on which it appears and is, therefore, "as made."