MCMVII High Relief, Flat Rim Twenty, MS67
1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim MS67 PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex:
Akers. Only once before since the beginning of our Permanent
Auction Archives in January 1993 have we offered an MS67 PCGS
example of the Flat Rim variety, with only one finer MS68 PCGS coin
making two previous appearances in our sales.
Far More Elusive Than the Wire Rim Variety
In the Auction '89 sale (Akers, 7/1989), lot 1456 was an MCMVII High Relief, Flat Rim MS67 PCGS "or better" example -- a coin different from the present specimen but in the same grade. As part of that lot description, David Akers wrote:
"There is no official mint record of the breakdown of the 11,250 High Relief Double Eagles minted into the number of Wire Rim pieces struck and the number of Flat Rim pieces minted. This is because it was not the mint's intention to strike two different varieties. The varieties actually occurred by accident when the first pieces struck (the Wire Rim coins) were struck using a collar that either did not fit properly or was insufficiently tight. The pressure from the repeated blows required to bring up the design properly forced metal up where the edge of the coin meets the collar to form a thin wire rim. When the collar problem was discovered and corrected (after the majority of High Reliefs had been struck), this so-called Flat Rim variety resulted. In our opinion based upon the relative rarity of the two varieties, two-thirds to three-fourths of the 11,250 pieces minted were the Wire Rim variety, the balance the Flat Rim variety. Since, in the past, the two varieties have usually brought more or less the same price, it is obvious that the Flat Rim variety is really very underrated and underpriced in comparison to the Wire Rim variety."
The mintage figure for both varieties of the High Relief, traditionally reported as 11,250 coins, has been revised to 12,367 pieces as a result of recent research. However, the division of Wire Rim and Flat Rim pieces remains unknown. The number of each that survive today, based on certification data, suggests that only about 1,800 Flat Rim coins were originally minted.
The Akers coin brought $110,000 in 1989 -- a song compared to recent auctions of high-grade Flat Rims. More recently, the grade-for-grade price disparity has widened between Flat Rims and their Wire Rim counterparts: An MS67 PCGS Wire Rim brought $161,000 in our Chicago Platinum Night (Heritage, 8/2011), lot 7681. The last auction we know of a similarly graded Flat Rim coin, MS67 PCGS, was four years earlier, in American Numismatic Rarities' June 2006 offering, lot 2791, a coin that nonetheless brought $195,500.
An MS67 NGC Wire Rim in the Goldberg's May 2011 auction, lot 1804, brought $123,625, while a Flat Rim in the same grade and service brought $172,500 in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5305 -- almost 40% more. Clearly, the market has become keenly aware of the greater rarity and price of Flat Rims versus Wire Rims since David Akers wrote the words above nearly 25 years ago.
Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, in the second edition of their gold Encyclopedia (2008), note that the Flat Rim twenties are "much scarcer than the Wire Rim, by a margin of nearly five to one." That estimate seems conservative, given the current PCGS population data showing 4,022 submissions of Wire Rim coins versus 639 for the Flat Rims, a margin exceeding six to one.
The present Flat Rim example is certified MS67 by PCGS, with the added CAC green label. Pristine yellow surfaces display vivid orange toning complementing hints of pale blue and violet. Both sides are fully brilliant, exhibiting soft, frosty mint luster. The fields throughout show the characteristic swirling lines from die polishing, although they can be perceived best on portions of the reverse, including the sun's face, the field just above, and the field area between TWENTY DOLLARS and the eagle's upper wing. The bold strike shows no weakness on either side over unblemished surfaces. A loupe reveals a few tiny ebony flecks, including one on the left side of Liberty's neck. A small curved lint mark appears below the upright of the R in LIBERTY. PCGS Population: 8 in 67, 1 finer (10/11).
Ex: Silvano De Genova; David Akers.
David Akers Comments:
The Flat Rim variety of the beautiful High Relief design was struck with dies from the same hubs as the Wire Rim version, but with a slightly revised edge collar. This was necessary because the fine and often irregular Wire Rim resulting from the collars initially used was deemed unsightly and thus unacceptable. In all other respects the two varieties are identical. The entire mintage of the MCMVII High Relief, both varieties included, was only 12,367 pieces, by far the lowest mintage figure of any regularly issued Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Because they were so beautiful and unusual in comparison to the previous Liberty Head design, they were saved by the general public and rarely, if ever, actually used in normal commerce. So a large percentage of the original mintage has survived with most of them in choice uncirculated or higher grades including more truly superb examples than are known of all but a couple of other very common dates in the series. Of the two High Relief varieties, the Flat Rim is substantially the rarer, at least three to five times as rare as the Wire Rim variety, yet the price difference between the two varieties is minimal in comparison to the difference in rarity.
I purchased this coin at a coin show from dealer Silvano De Genova in the late 1980s and initially planned to keep it for my daughter because I thought it was so beautiful and exceptional, even by High Relief standards. The fact that it also was the much rarer Flat Rim variety made it all the more appealing. But I quickly had second thoughts and felt it really belonged in a superb, complete collection and so I sold it to Dr. Duckor instead.
From The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection.
Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9136)
View all of [The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection ]
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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.
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