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Description

High Relief 1907 Twenty Dollar, Flat Rim Variant
Magnificent MS66 Example

1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim MS66 PCGS. CAC. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was not above borrowing artistic ideas from others as well as from his own previous works. The striding figure of Liberty on the High Relief twenty from 1907 owes an obvious nod to the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre, a work Saint-Gaudens was undoubtedly familiar with from his study at the Beaux-Arts school in Paris in the late 1860s, and also from occasional visits to the City of Lights in later years. He even had a studio in Paris in the late 1890s and completed the Sherman Monument there. The figure of Victory that forms a central part of the Sherman Monument was the predecessor of the figure of Liberty seen 10 years later on the High Relief double eagles. The Victory figure was completed in stages as related by Thayer Tolles in Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

"Once in Paris Saint-Gaudens worked obsessively on the winged allegorical figure of Victory that he had begun modeling in New York in early 1897. First, as was his custom, he sculpted the figure undraped. He used a highly sought-after artists' model, Hettie Anderson, an African American woman whom he said had 'a figure like a goddess.' Later, in Paris, he found the arrangement of the drapery for the clothed version of Victory particularly challenging, spending two weeks arranging flowing cloth on four different models to arrive at the desired swirling, windswept effect."


When a similar allegorical figure was needed for the double eagle, it proved a relatively easy task to adapt and slightly rearrange the figure of Victory and transform it into Liberty. After the wings, palm branch, and laurel crown were dropped from Victory, and a torch and an olive branch were added, the figure became the central motif seen on the obverse of the double eagle. In both cases the striding figure is dynamic and powerful. The two weeks Saint-Gaudens spent arranging the drapery gives Victory/Liberty the windswept appearance similar to that seen on Hellenistic statuary -- perfect for a coin President Roosevelt wanted modeled after the high relief pieces produced in ancient Greece.
This is a magnificent example of the latter-stage Flat Rim variant of the High Relief twenty. The surfaces exude a bright yellow-gold, satiny sheen that gently rolls around each side as the coin is angled beneath a light source. The striking details are complete in all areas, including full separation of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA from the upper reverse rim. There are, of course, no mentionable contact marks on this remarkable coin.
From The Jim O'Neal Gold Type Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9136)

View all of [The Jim O'Neal Gold Type Collection ]

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
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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