Within the $20 Saint Gaudens series are exceedingly common issues as well as major rarities. There are dates like the 1908 and 1924 that can be in located in virtually limitless quantities—and issues like the 1927-D which are seven figure rarities. Indeed, the series is very much a study in contrast between the ultra-common and prohibitively rare. This article will explore the five basic categories: common, slightly better, scarce, rare and ultra-rare.
The most common dates, by far, are the 1908 No Motto, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. These dates are all easy to locate from low grades all the way to MS 66. Even MS 67 examples of the 1908 and 1924 appear on the market with regularity. Not only were these dates minted in large quantities, but they were not terribly prone to mass-melting. In other words, many were made and few were destroyed.
The next category consists of dates that are legitimately scarcer but command a miniscule premium in most grades. These slightly better dates include the 1908-D No Motto, 1908-D With Motto, 1909-S, 1910, 1910-D, 1910-S, 1911-D, 1911-S, 1913-D, 1914-S, 1915-S, 1922, 1923 and 1923-D. These issues are actually a good bit rarer than the most common issues. Yet, even in lower Uncirculated grades, they command a relatively small premium in the marketplace. One could argue that these dates represent some of the best values in the Saint Gaudens $20 series.
The next level includes scarce dates that command a premium in all grades, like the 1907 High Relief, 1908-S, 1909-D and 1913-S. These coins always sell for a good bit more than common/generic dates regardless of condition, even if well-worn or damaged. Although the 1907 High Relief is actually more available than the 1908-S, 1909-D and 1913-S, it actually trades for higher prices due to its immense popularity.
After that comes rare dates that are quite difficult to locate and often sell for tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. Issues that fit these parameters include the 1922-S, 1924-D, 1924-S, 1925-D, 1925-S, 1926-D, 1926-S, 1927-S, 1929, 1930-S, 1931 and 1932. These are all extremely pricey numismatic items that, depending on condition, can range in value from $7,500 to $400,000.
The most valuable dates in the $20 Saint Gaudens—the ultra-rarities—command prices from the mid six figures all the way into the millions. The members of this elusive club are the 1907 Ultra High Relief, 1921, 1927-D and 1933. The 1933 holds a special place in United States numismatics for holding the all-time auction record for an American coin. One specimen fetched an incredible $7 million at auction in 2001—a record that to this day has not been broken. These four dates not only represent the pinnacle of the Saint Gaudens Double Eagle series, but are some of the most valuable items in all of American coinage.