Bright Yellow-Gold MCMVII High Relief, Flat Rim
1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim MS65 PCGS. The aesthetics of
the obverse and reverse of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle have been
the subject of intense study. Numismatic art critic Cornelius
Vermeule provided many insightful comments, and a number of others
have written about the beauty of this design. Often ignored,
however, is the "third side of the coin," the edge, which although
not artistically remarkable was an integral part of Saint-Gaudens'
Remarkable MS65 Quality
In October or November 1906 Saint-Gaudens settled on the final design for the double eagle, but he left no place for the required E PLURIBUS UNUM. Saint-Gaudens felt that if the motto were placed on the obverse or reverse the design would too crowded, so he decided put it to the edge. The United States, however, had not struck regular-issue lettered edge coins since 1836, when the first steam press was installed. Those letters were sunken, but Saint-Gaudens' design called for raised edge lettering.
Charles Barber worked to develop a three-segment edge collar for the eagle and double eagle, but it proved to be an engineering challenge. A few High Reliefs were also struck using two different kinds of collars ("toggle" and "cone" collars). The wire rim or "fin" posed additional problems for the Mint, and it was not until December 1907 that the double eagle collar operated reliably at the Philadelphia Mint. The result was the much-scarcer Flat Rim coins, as seen here. Collar problems persisted, however, and few Flat Rim twenties actually have a completely flat rim. These problems continued into the following year, and the Denver and San Francisco Mints reported collar problems through the first half of 1908.
The 1907 High Relief double eagles needed to be struck with three blows of the die in order to bring up the full details of the design. The first two strikes were made with a plain edge collar and for the last, the lettered edge collar was substituted. The significant time required to strike each High Relief coin made them impractical for circulation purposes, but a total of 12,367 pieces were struck and immediately sought by collectors.
The Flat Rim coin seen here is one of the most successful attempts made by the Mint at suppressing the wire rim or "fin" of extruded metal. It only shows on this piece between 3 and 4 o'clock on the reverse. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold, lacking the usually seen reddish patina. The mint luster is satiny, as always, and undisturbed by any noticeable contact marks. The overall quality is simply extraordinary on this remarkable High Relief.
From The Good Harbour Bay Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9136)
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Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers
The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins.
Each date and mintmark is reviewed with up-to-date information, much of which has never been previously published. The book is based on
two extraordinary collections: The Phillip H. Morse collection and the Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor collection.
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