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Newly Rediscovered, Ultra Rare 1870-Cc $20 Gold Coin on the Auction Block
1870-CC $20 Extremely Fine. Est. $150,000-180,000. From the Estate of Hellen and Charles Mapes, Reno, NV. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams & Butterfields.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams & Butterfields announces its sale on September 4, 2011 of gold coins from the Estate of Hellen and Charles Mapes, of Reno, NV. The eponymous Collection, once owned by the famed hotel and casino mogul Charles Mapes, includes a rarely seen, high grade 1870-CC Liberty Double Eagle coin. This date and mint are well known to numismatists as the top Carson City rarity in the Liberty Double Eagle series. In fact, it is the rarest of all CC gold coinage.

This particular coin has been in the Mapes Collection since it was purchased in February of 1961 from the fabled Kreisberg-Schulman Auction of February 16-18, 1961 held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, and can be considered a "discovery" piece due to the length of time since its last offering 50 years ago. Knowledgeable researchers estimate that approximately 35 to 45 1870-CC $20 coins exist, most in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine grade range. It should be noted there are no Uncirculated (Mint State) examples presently known to either of the major grading services.

Paul Song, Director of the Rare Coins and Bank Notes Department, Bonhams & Butterfields, said of the coin: "We are estimating the Mapes 1870-CC Double Eagle to conservatively be $150,000-$180,000. This year marks the 50th year anniversary of Mr. Mapes' purchase of this ultra-rarity and this example has not seen the light of day for the past 50 years, making this example in effect a coin of the highest importance being offered after a half century in the depths of a safety deposit box."

At the time this coin was brought into Bonhams' offices, the client was unaware that this was in fact a classic rarity, and believed this coin to be the much more common 1870 $20, which is typically estimated between $1,500-2,000.

Song continues: "I really enjoyed looking at this nice old group of coins which had clearly been from an 'old time collection.' I looked at the three 1907 High Relief $20's and the two $50 California so-called slugs before I saw the 1870 $20. It was encased in a very unpretentious looking Capital Plastics holder, but when I flipped the coin over to look at the reverse to determine the condition of the coin, the CC mintmark simply jumped out at me. It was a true surprise, and also for our client. As this coin marks the 50th year of its purchase by Mr. Mapes, and is one of the legendary coins in all of United States Coinage, we anticipate the auction of this coin to be a historic event, and foresee this item going to another collector where it will be treasured for decades to come."

In addition to the 1870-CC $20, there are three 1907 (MCMVII) High Relief Double Eagles ranging in grades from About Uncirculated to Choice Uncirculated ((estimates range from $8,000-10,000 to $12,000-14,000). Territorial Gold is represented by two important coins: 1851 Augustus Humbert $50 "Slug" 880 THOUS. Reeded Edge ( est. $15,000-18,000), and an 1852 U.S. Assay Office $50 "Slug" 900 THOUS ( est. $8,000-12,000).

Additional highlights from the Mapes Collection include a 1902 Great Britain 5 Pounds (est. $2,000-3,000), 1850 $20 (est. $1,550-1,750), 1855 $3 ( est. $1,400-1,600), and a 1775-MJ Peru (Carlos III) 8 Escudos ( est. $1,600-2,200). Mr. Mapes led a very prominent and colorful existence, and these coins reflect both his mercurial nature as well as his appreciation of the finer things in life.

Coinage of note from the Mapes Collection will be on view at the ANA World's Fair of Money in Chicago, IL., (August 16-20) at the Bonhams & Butterfields booth, as well as private viewings in our New York and San Francisco offices prior to the public exhibition in Los Angeles and their auction on September 4, 2011.

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