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MCMVII High Relief, MS66
Beautifully Preserved

1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS66 NGC. Numismatists know little about the personality of the famous designer of the ten and twenty dollar gold pieces from 1907, other than the often-exaggerated conflict between Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Chief Engraver Charles Barber. His personal determination to become a first-rate sculptor went back to his days as a student in Paris. His mother was Irish and his father French.

After several years of study at the École des Beaux-Arts, Saint-Gaudens declared in 1870, "I am heart and soul in the French cause." He said this as Prussian troops were advancing on Paris, and a decision about his future was imminent. He could go with his "heart and soul" and enlist in the French army, like his wrestling-partner Alfred Garnier and fellow-sculptor Olin Warner, or he could join the thousands of other Americans who saw the dire short-term future for the French capital.

Saint-Gaudens wrote to Garnier (in French), "I feel persuaded you think me a coward, and I don't blame you!" But he quickly answered this self-accusation by stating that if it were not for his parents, he would enlist. "But they are getting old, and love me. They have worked all their lives, are poor, and are still working. What would happen if they should lose me now?"

Saint-Gaudens' life mission to become a preeminent sculptor was set. Rather than enlisting in the French army and likely dying, as happened to painter Frederic Bazille in 1870, or retreating to America, instead, he found a third path and set out for Rome to advance his education as a sculptor. This youthful decision to pursue sculpting at all costs explains much about his three-dimensional mindset and the ultimate design of the High Relief double eagle.

This remarkable high-grade example has been meticulously preserved since the year of issue. The mint luster is thick and satiny and displays a pronounced yellow cast rather than the usual reddish hue. The strike details are strongly brought up in all areas. This is truly a coin that must be seen in person in order to be fully appreciated.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9135)

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Auction Dates
January, 2014
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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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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