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Press Release - March 16, 2006
Mint State MCMVII High Relief Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Won by California Collector - The 11th High Relief Awarded to Heritage Survey Respondents
Dallas, Texas: Keith M. Parker, a Southern California collector, has won the Grand Prize in Heritage's 2006 Auction Survey drawing - an MS61 High Relief Double Eagle designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Designed at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, the High Relief "Saint" is considered by many numismatists to be America's most beautiful coin.
According to Mr. Parker, who has never won any prize of any size in his life, the call announcing his win came as a complete surprise: "To say that your call made my day (my weekend, my month...) would be an understatement. I jumped on the Internet to HeritageAuctions.com to look at other High Relief examples, having never even owned a $20 Saint (although I did bid on some in your recent auction of the wonderful collection of Phillip H. Morse, the co-owner of the Red Sox. I read that catalogue from cover to cover, finding the descriptions of the coins and the history of their mintage fascinating)."
Mr. Parker, who was born and raised in Southern California, filled "the obligatory Whitman folders with coins as a child, but spent all of the Morgan and Peace dollars that my grandparents sent to my sister and I when they would write to us. To this day I wonder if an 1889-CC or 1893-S passed through my hands at the toy store. In high school, I worked at a jewelry store, and was allowed to search the cash register for silver coins, which had just ceased being minted. When I had enough to make the trip worthwhile, I would drive to Jonathon's Coins in Inglewood and sell them. I thought being able to sell a quarter for 35 cents or more was very cool, but I was never very dedicated to the effort of buying coins. Fortunately, I always remembered those gorgeous silver coins."
Mr. Parker received his Bachelor's degree in Physical Chemistry in 1974 from UCLA, and found work in Madison with the Wisconsin Power & Light Company as an Environmental Scientist. "I worked on air and water pollution studies in connection with the licensing of new coal fired power plants. One January (when the wind chill was about 30 below) I called the company's lawyers to discuss an environmental impact report, and was told that the lead attorney was vacationing for three weeks on a Mediterranean cruise. I decided right then that I was in the wrong profession, and began law school at Northwestern University in Chicago. After receiving my Juris Doctor degree in 1982, I ultimately returned to Southern California and joined a large, national law firm that did some work for PCGS. I was very intrigued by the idea of standardized grading of coins by reputable third parties."
In 1994, Mr. Parker and 3 former colleagues started their own small firm in Irvine, motivated by lifestyle decisions. Partly that included a rekindled interest in rare coins: "I purchased my first coins from Heritage through eBay in June 2000, and I have purchased virtually all of my coins from Heritage ever since. The large number of coins available through Heritage and the information about the coins provided by your website remedied my first long-standing concern ? lack of information; the independent grading by PCGS remedied the second concern ? vagaries of grading. My focus remains on Morgan silver dollars. The coins are beautiful and remind me of those I received from my grandparents when I was young. While my collection for the most part consists of relatively modest coins, I have been able to purchase high-end examples by looking for JH Exceptional selections. Most importantly, I have always been treated with respect and as a valued customer by the Heritage employees."
"We were most gratified by Mr. Parker's comments," noted Heritage President Greg Rohan. "Client service is the number one focus of our efforts at Heritage, and the fun of making the phone call to the lucky winner may be superceded only by his kind remarks."
While Mr. Parker is thrilled with his new High Relief $20, he admits to being somewhat torn about its place in his collection: "It is a beautiful example of US coinage that I otherwise would never have an opportunity to own, but it is also a very valuable coin which could provide resources that I could use for rarer Morgans that I otherwise couldn't afford. Given the current state of the coin market, I don't think I can go wrong by holding onto the double eagle for the time being, and it will take a very special Morgan to give it up."
Images, descriptions, and prices realized from all of Heritage's previous auctions are available in the Permanent Auction Archives at the Heritage website.
To reserve your copy of a catalog for any upcoming Heritage auction, please contact Nicole Jewell, c/o Heritage Auction Galleries, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219, or call 1-800-872-6467, ext. 272.