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Historic Gem 1907 Rolled Rim Indian Head Eagle

1907 $10 Rolled Rim MS65 NGC. Judd-1903. As part of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' commission to redesign the four circulating gold coins plus the cent at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, at one point the sculptor proposed to Roosevelt that the head of Liberty wearing the feather headdress for the obverse, combined with the flying eagle on the reverse, should be used on the twenty dollar piece (and on the cent), rather than the striding full figure of Liberty on the obverse that was ultimately adopted. So that Saint-Gaudens could see the concept embodied on a coin, Roosevelt ordered a piece to be made, creating one of the rarest and most celebrated of all pattern coins, the Judd-1905 gold Indian Head double eagle. Only a single piece was produced. Roosevelt reviewed the concept coin with Mint Director George E. Roberts, who replied to Saint-Gaudens that the walking figure of Liberty would apply to the double eagle, with the "feather head of Liberty with the standing eagle" on the ten dollar coin (Roger Burdette, Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908). Roberts made no further mention of the cent.
The first models for the ten dollar coin had deeply cut edges, soft detailing, and the date in Roman numerals, which Roberts deemed impractical. The first production coins had a wire or knife rim, and triangular dots for periods before and after TEN DOLLARS. Coins of the new design would not stack. During this time Mint personnel were still experimenting with the 46-star edge collar, and early specimens had irregularly spaced, different-sized stars along the edge. Mint Engraver Charles Barber, curtailing his summer vacation (and deeply resenting Saint-Gaudens, apparently to the end), redesigned the eagles with a rounded rim. Although in the meantime a third version of the eagle had been received (from Homer Saint-Gaudens, Augustus's son). Saint-Gaudens died from intestinal cancer in August 1907 and general confusion resulted in the production of 31,500 coins with the rounded rim and soft central details. The Judd pattern reference, eighth and ninth editions, list these as Judd-1903, renumbered from Judd-1775 in the seventh and earlier editions. Burdette says, "These are not patterns and are best described as abandoned production trials." The rounded rim allowed the coins to stack, and protected them from wear. All except 50 pieces (according to Burdette; most other experts say 42) were ordered melted, apparently at Barber's insistence. These coins retained the triangular, raised dots as periods of the initial Wire Rim coins. The surfaces are bright yellow-gold with thick, satiny mint frost. The strike through the centers is soft, a diagnostic for the issue. The combined NGC/PCGS population data show a total of 69 pieces graded at both services, although that total is still a far cry from the 189 pieces that the Garrett-Guth gold Encyclopedia puzzlingly claims those two services have certified.
The present MS65 specimen is one of 12 pieces so graded at NGC, with five coins finer (10/06). This is another dazzlingly elusive and historic coin of the seminal early days of Saint-Gaudens' coinage designs, one destined to be a centerpiece of any fine numismatic collection.
From The Freedom Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 268C, PCGS# 8851)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
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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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