We are pleased to offer one of America's classic gold rarities, the 1870 Carson City double eagle. Doug Winter and Mike Fuljenz, authors of Type Two Double Eagles 1866-1876, have this to say about this important date: "The 1870-CC double eagle holds a number of important distinctions. It is the rarest and most valuable Type Two double eagle. It is the most famous and desirable gold coin struck at the Carson City Mint. And, it is the most difficult Type Two double eagle to locate in premium quality grades...The sales records of 1870-CC double eagles are as distinctive as their strike and appearance. Generally, this date becomes available in spurts. Two or three pieces will come onto the market, eventually to be absorbed, and then disappear for many years. Then, it becomes nearly impossible to find a piece for sale. Nearly every example of this date is owned by a serious collector and these coins trade far less frequently than pieces owned by investors or dealers."
This distinctive coin has a story of its own. This particular coin has been in the Charles Mapes Collection since being purchased from the Kreisberg-Schulman Auction in February 1961, and can be considered a "discovery" piece due to the length of time since it's last offering 50 years ago. Cataloging numismatic items has come a long way since then, and we are including the following description from the Kreisberg-Schulman catalog for your reference and interest: Lot 1366 1870-CC First year of the CC Mint 20's. A Great Rarity, only 3789 coined and very seldom offered at auction. We doubt if there are more than 20 of this date and mint mark in existence. This coin is strictly very fine. Few light scratches and bag marks and in checking over the auction records over the years this certainly is one of the nicest known. Consider this, the famous Dunham Collection which offered such rarities as the 1822 $5 and many other outstanding rarities did not contain the 1870-CC $20. Worth over (4500.00)
Obviously a great deal has changed in numismatics since then. Knowledgeable researchers now estimate between 35-45 1870-CC twenties exist, most in the VF/XF grade range. This specimen exhibits numerous small marks (as are typical for the issue) with ample traces of frosty luster remaining in the protected areas of the design on both the obverse and reverse. For pedigree purposes, a vertical abrasion is seen in the left obverse field between Liberty's nose and star 4. Another thin indentation extends from left of star 1 upward through star 3 to the rim, and a tiny edge chip is near the top of the reverse rim. Once graded by either PCGS or NGC, this coin possibly could be placed at the low end of the Condition Census. It should be noted there are no Uncirculated (Mint State) examples presently known to either of the major grading services.
There are two known die varieties for the 1870-CC twenty that Doug Winter attempts to explain in his book, Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint. This cataloger has attempted to simplify and clarify the distinction. 1. Variety 1-A. The first C in CC is clearly above the N and the mintmark is, for the most part, above the N. 2. Variety 2-B. The CC mintmark lies above the N and the T of TWENTY D., and the mintmark sort of straddles the area above these two letters. This coin is the first variety (1-A) and a majority of known 1870-CC twenties are from that die pairing. However, this point is inconsequential as virtually no one collects Liberty twenties by die variety, especially not this classic rarity.
A little history about the consignor. When World War II ended, Charles Mapes, Jr. and his family decided to build their dream hotel using the blueprints chosen by his father, Charles, Sr. who had passed away in 1937. The Mapes Hotel and Casino was the first major high-rise hotel built in this country after World War II. When the twelve-story Mapes Hotel opened in the heart of Reno in December 1947, it was the tallest building in Nevada. The hotel was significant in the development of the tourism industry and was the forerunner of the Nevada casino-hotels built specifically to offer gaming, guest accommodations, restaurants, bars, and big name entertainment.
The Mapes Hotel and Casino thrived throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s but began to face problems competing with more modern casino/hotels in Reno and Las Vegas in the 1980s. The Casino closed on December 17, 1982. The building was allowed to decay as many different owners took possession of the building with plans to revive the casino/hotel, all of which failed. Finally, the Reno Redevelopment Agency took possession of the building in 1996. Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in the face of much local protest, the city of Reno condemned the building and demolished it on January 30, 2000. The land is now a city park.
Who knows how long it might be before any other 1870-CC twenty is offered, but the quality offered in this lot will be hard to surpass. We are estimating the hammer value of the Mapes 1870-CC double eagle to be $150,000 - $180,000. (PCGS 8958)