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Wonderful Near-Gem 1907 Wire Rim Eagle

1907 $10 Wire Rim MS64 NGC. A wonderful volume titled Augustus Saint-Gaudens: American Sculptor of the Gilded Age, by Henry J. Duffy and John F. Dryfhout, gives numismatists a refreshing view of the artist's oeuvre from a wider perspective than that of mere coinage. (It also clarifies for readers who are numismatically astute some of the fundamental differences between "the Saint" and Charles Barber--but that is a tale for another day.)
Saint-Gaudens was most comfortable working in large forms. One of his most famous sculptures, a nude, full-length figure of the Greek goddess Diana, was created in the 1890s, when architect Stanford White was designing Madison Square Garden. The 18-foot-tall statue was mounted as a weather vane atop the building's 347-foot-tall tower. Once it was installed "with great fanfare" in October 1891, it was the tallest feature in the New York City skyline.
The sculpture dwarfed the tower on which it rested, a fact that the artist soon realized, reworking it the following year to a height of 13 feet. The reduced-size figure remained atop Madison Square Garden until 1925, when it went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The original 18-foot statue was placed atop the Agriculture Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where it burned along with many empty exposition buildings the following year.
Duffy writes, "Saint-Gaudens's gift was his subtle balance between surface realism and psychic energy unmatched by any of his contemporaries." While Saint-Gaudens used his model of Athena Nike on the General Sherman Monument as his original conception for the 1907 Wire Rim, Periods eagles, he managed to translate that massive sculptural form into a vital profile portrait, while still maintaining its vitality and "psychic energy" in a credible, small coin format.
This piece offers glorious deep orange-gold coloration overall. A couple of abrasions are noted on the eagle's upper neck. Notice how the eagle manages to appear massive even at such a small scale, and the incredible grandeur and believability it projects. A wonderful type coin. Census: 79 in 64, 62 finer (9/09).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 8850)

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Auction Dates
October, 2009
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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