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Description

Stunning MS67+ 1907 Saint-Gaudens
High Relief, Flat Rim Twenty

1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim MS67+ NGC. In Thayer Tolles' book Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the art critic sets the stage for the period in which Saint-Gaudens was at the peak of the sculptural world in America:

"The demand for luxurious goods and imposing mansions was met by an ambitious group of architects, painters, sculptors, and decorators who believed that these collaborative projects stood as powerful reflections of their country's growing cultural presence on the world stage as it assumed its rightful place in a distinguished artistic continuum. These symbiotic partnerships inspired some of the most remarkable products of the American Renaissance, a period of unprecedented artistic cross-fertilization that began in the mid-1870s and continued through the 1910s."


This placed Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and his prodigious artistic talents, at the right time and in the right place to take full advantage of this demand for art in what became known as The Gilded Age. He used his natural artistic talent, coupled it with a successful workshop of apprentice artists, self-referenced his own works when possible, and curried the favor of wealthy patrons. The result was a outpouring of 214 works, many of staggering beauty and all of which display a natural ease of the subject portrayed.
After several decades of exceptional sculptural production, Theodore Roosevelt called on Saint-Gaudens to redesign several of the nation's coins. But he challenged him to redesign them with the high relief seen on coins from ancient Greece. Saint-Gaudens admired such coins as well and accepted the challenge, although reluctantly. Over the previous 15 years he had several encounters with Charles Barber, and the clash between artist and engraver had not turned out well for Saint-Gaudens. However, this time Saint-Gaudens had the president's full support, and Roosevelt used the power of his office to finally get the new coin designs into production. The frustrated president finally ordered that the new twenty dollar gold pieces go into production "even if it takes all day and night to produce one coin." It did not take quite that long, but it did require multiple blows from a hydraulic press usually used to strike medals to strike the High Relief twenties. And in the short striking period in late 1907, only 12,367 pieces were produced.
As a Flat Rim coin, this was one of the final examples struck in December, 1907 of this magnificent design. The surfaces display bright yellow-gold color, similar to that seen on Ultra High Reliefs which were annealed between strikings. Diligent searching with a loupe fails to find any post-striking impairments. While we hesitate to call any coin perfect, this is as close to perfection as we can remember in recent memory. The striking details are also notable for extreme sharpness. While High Reliefs were struck multiple times on a hydraulic press, even so the tops of the letters on the upper reverse often blend into the inner rim. Not so here. The berries are rounded in the olive branch. Truly an exceptional High Relief.(Registry values: N10218) (PCGS# 9136)

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Auction Dates
July, 2010
8th-11th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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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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