Unparalleled 1892 $20 Liberty Double Eagle NGC MS66* Deep Prooflike. THE PRESENT MS66 COIN (star designation, too!) IS SIMPLY THE FINEST BUSINESS STRIKE $20 LIBERTY DOUBLE to be certified.
On the first of January, 1892, Ellis Island in New York replaced Castle Garden as the nation’s busiest immigration inspection station and remained as such until 1954. Over 450,000 individuals came to these shores within the first year and over 12 million immigrants were processed and allowed to settle during the 62 years that followed.
Just prior to this time it was determined the nation’s wealth belonged to the top 1% of the population (sound familiar?). Expanding nations needed to attract cheap labor, and inviting immigration seemed to coincide very nicely with this need.
1892 also happened to mark the anniversary of the discovery of the New World 400 years earlier, as Chicago hosted the World Columbian Exposition in commemoration with great fanfare. According to Wikipedia, “The Exposition was an influential social and cultural event and had a profound effect on architecture, sanitation, the arts, Chicago’s self-image, and American industrial optimism.” Although it was officially open between May and October of 1893, the dedication ceremonies were held on October 21, 1892. The exposition covered over 600 acres and featured work and achievements from 46 different nations. One of the most anticipated and entertaining attractions was that of an invention called the Ferris wheel, the brainchild of inventor George W.G. Ferris, which stood 250 feet in diameter had had 36 box cars attached to it. A commemorative silver quarter of queen Isabella and a silver half dollar of Columbus were also issued during the event, along with a complete denominational range of artistically detailed stamps. Many other souvenirs were issued and sold as well, providing the collector with a wide range of memorabilia from which to choose.
1892 also marked the emergence of a new design for the dime, quarter and half dollar. Affectionately known as the “Barber” coins, they were designed by Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber after a congress ordered a public competition for the new design to replace the older Liberty Seated one. Due to the fact that only the winner would receive a cash award, none of the invited artists participated in the contest and those efforts submitted by the general public were disregarded entirely.
Only four gold denominations were stuck by the working mints in this year, the quarter, half and double eagles as well as the eagle itself. San Francisco was responsible for the largest output of coins, while the Philadelphia mintages were kept to a minimum. There were only 4,430 double eagles made in 1892 in Philadelphia as opposed to over two hundred times that amount struck at San Francisco! Even the fabled Carson City mint struck six times that of this low mintage. PCGS and NGC have certified nearly the exact same amount of coins today – 119 and 118 respectively. This present specimen is, however, the finest graded by a mile.
BUT THE BEST IS YET TO COME…out of ALL the Liberty double eagles certified by NGC as Prooflike (PL) or Deep Prooflike (DPL), THIS IS THE FINEST COIN CERTIFIED BY TWO GRADES in DPL. No other coin in any other date minted between 1850 and 1907 can claim this title! THE PRESENT MS66 COIN (star designation, too!) IS SIMPLY THE FINEST BUSINESS STRIKE $20 LIBERTY DOUBLE ever certified by NGC when it comes to its field attributes (and PCGS doesn’t certify gold as DPL EXCEPT for seven of the S.S. Central America gold 1857-S double eagles). There aren’t any MS65 DPL’s either! WOW-!!
Despite the fact that Walter Breen claimed in his 1988 Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins “…possibly 16-20 business strikes survive, of which 4 are AU to UNC., the rest VF to EF” we now know more than that are extant.
The present specimen exhibits a razor-sharp strike with deeply contrasting mirror fields, creating a mesmerizing and frosty cameo effect. At first glance one would be very inclined to call this a proof. A more eye-catching $20 Liberty of any date would be impossible to locate, much less one of this rarity, in our opinion.