A Brinks shipment from Professional Coin Grading Service to Heritage Auctions on Oct. 17 was apparently broken into, and the finest known 1870-CC $20 stolen. The Liberty Double Eagle gold coin is graded AU58 by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation and carries NGC Certification ID 3414402-001.
"When we opened the Brinks bag, it was evident that the shipping box had been sliced open, and the PCGS box within was empty," said Paul Minshull COO of Heritage. "We immediately called PCGS, who confirmed that their security surveillance video showed that the box and package with the coin were shipped as usual and in good order. At that point, we contacted Brinks security and our insurance company, and their investigations have started. We have also reached out to the FBI."
"In my 29 years at Heritage I have not heard of a coin loss in a Brink shipment before," said Minshull, "so this is an extremely rare incident."
The 1870-CC $20 rarity was only recently discovered and sent to Heritage for auction. According to Heritage President Greg Rohan, it was slated to go into the FUN Platinum Night auction in Orlando in January 2012.
"While the coin is fully covered under our insurance, this is about more than money. It’s really about what we hope will be just a temporary loss of a numismatic treasure," Rohan said. "This rarity was not only newly discovered and the finest known, but it was a gorgeous coin and the best ever seen in the marketplace."
The Carson City Mint had been under construction since 1866, but many delays were experienced due to inclement weather, lack of building materials, and a chronic shortage of funds to pay the workers. They began coining operations on Feb. 11, 1870, with a small emission of silver dollars; coinage of double eagles commenced on March 10, with a delivery of 1,332 pieces.
Technical problems continued to beset the Mint, and the first year’s total production of double eagles was only 3,789 pieces. That entire mintage was released into circulation, so every 1870-CC double eagle known today shows some signs of wear (the issue being completely unknown in Mint State). Experts estimate a surviving population of 35-50 examples in all grades, and this newly discovered example is the finest survivor.
"At this level of rarity, the coin will turn up in the marketplace sooner or later, and it will be identified because it’s so notable," said Minshull. "We’re working with the authorities to coordinate all avenues of inquiry to prompt an early and safe recovery of the coin and apprehend all wrongdoers."
About Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.