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Description

Choice Mint State 1907 Wire Rim Eagle
The First Frank A. Leach Specimen

1907 $10 Wire Rim MS64 NGC. American art and architecture was still largely in the grips of Neoclassicism in the 1860s. But when Augustus Saint-Gaudens went to Paris in 1867, what he found was realism and naturalism. The term "realism" has many meanings, almost as many meanings as the people who use the term. But the realism and naturalism he found at the prestigious École des Beaux Arts pulled him away from the idealized forms and subject matter seen in Neoclassicism. This movement away from Neoclassicism and toward more real and natural renderings of his subjects can be seen in Saint-Gaudens entire oeuvre.
Specific to coins, however, it can most easily be seen by contrasting the ten dollar gold piece and the naturalism seen there with the stylized portraits seen on coins such as the three cent nickel, gold dollar, and twenty dollar gold piece. Saint-Gaudens' portrait used on the 1907 ten dollar gold piece was indeed based on a real person, or amalgam of as many as three models: Mary Cunningham, Hettie Anderson, and Alice Butler. Whether it was based on one or several models, the fact is the portrait is unflinchingly realistic. Ironically, it was Theodore Roosevelt who insisted on adding an Indian war bonnet, introducing a stylized motif on an otherwise naturalistic portrait of Liberty.
The Wire Rim ten was considered by Augustus Saint-Gaudens to be the final product for the denomination. However, the design was plagued with production problems. In short, the design was unsuited to the needs of high-speed production that could meet the demands of commerce.
A lovely example with sharp design detail and full luster. Both sides have shimmering straw-gold surfaces. The strike is sharp enough to show the period following LIBERTY, a feature that is usually faint or entirely absent. Scattered surface marks are entirely inconsequential but prevent a higher grade. The stars on the tripartite edge are mostly bold, but slightly uneven, with a few stars weaker than the majority. Identification marks include a tiny depression in the field just left of the center of the forehead, small ticks across both L's in DOLLAR, and a minuscule rim nick below the upright of the second L. Although shallow, the wire edge is visible around the upper part of the obverse rim and around most of the reverse rim.
Ex: Frank Aleamon Leach; Abraham Powell Leach; Florence Gertrude Leach; Col. George Monroe.
From The Colonel George M. Monroe Collection.
See lots 5222, 5223, 5238, and 5305 for additional gold coins with the Leach provenance.

When Frank Aleamon Leach was born in Auburn, New York, on August 19, 1846, he became part of a longstanding American family. His fifth great-grandfather, Lawrence Leach, immigrated from England to Salem, Massachusetts, in 1629. Just six years after his birth, Frank Leach and his mother traveled to California to join their father, who lived in Sacramento. California became his home, where he spent much of his life until he died in Oakland on June 19, 1929. Leach was a newspaper editor and publisher who founded or published the Napa Reporter, Vallejo Chronicle, Benicia New Era, Oakland Chronicle, and the Oakland Enquirer. Leach served the Republican Party in the California state legislature, and also served as postmaster in Vallejo.
Leach is best known in numismatics as the superintendent of the San Francisco Mint from 1897 to 1907, seeing that facility and the city through the great earthquake of 1906. He served a second term as superintendent in 1912 and 1913. Meanwhile, Leach served as the director of the Mint, based in Washington, D.C., from September 1907 to July 1909, assuming his duties upon his arrival in October 1907. Leach worked directly with President Theodore Roosevelt to issue the new Saint-Gaudens eagles and double eagles, as well as the smaller gold denominations that Bela Lyon Pratt designed. He also oversaw the Lincoln cent's debut in 1909.
His book, Recollections of a Newspaperman, recounts his life story and tells much about life in central California following the Gold Rush. Leach and his staff saved the San Francisco Mint during the 1906 earthquake and fire, and Leach saved San Francisco financially. His recollection of that event is highly informative. An obituary notes: "Leach, in addition to being a newspaper publisher, was a member for several terms of the State legislature, director [sic] of the San Francisco mint during the 1906 disaster and later director of U.S. mints and historical writer."
Leach was a humble personality, always marveling at his association with great men of his time like President Theodore Roosevelt. However, Leach was one of those great men himself, although he seems to be a forgotten individual in history. Col. George Monroe, consignor to the present sale, describes Leach as "a man of action as well as a man of thought."
Frank Leach was married to Mary Louise Powell on December 1, 1870, and the couple had four children, Frank Aleamon, Jr., Abraham Powell, Edwin Ralph, and Harry Earl.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 8850)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
5th-9th
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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