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Exceptional Superb Gem 1908 With Motto Indian Head Eagle

1908 $10 Motto MS67 PCGS. The 1908 is the first issue of the With Motto type in the ten dollar Indian series. The original mintage was an impressive 341,602 pieces, and Uncirculated coins are anything but rare. However, once the Gem level has been achieved (and in this case passed) there are very few coins to satisfy collector demand. Indeed, population statistics indicate that PCGS and NGC combined have certified only 8 pieces in MS67 and 7 coins finer, as of (11/08), confirming the rarity of this issue in the loftier grades of Mint State.
According to The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Ivy Press, 2006):

"Congress disagreed with President Theodore Roosevelt's decision to omit the motto IN GOD WE TRUST from the newly designed ten and twenty dollar gold coinage. As an expression of public sentiment, Congress passed the Mint Act of 1908, which mandated that the motto be restored to gold coinage. On the tens, it was placed in the field near the eagle's breast, and it remained there for the duration of coinage."

Roosevelt had earlier written a letter to Reverend Roland C. Dryer, of Nunda, New York. Dated November 11, 1907, the letter explained some of President Roosevelt's feelings about the issue of mentioning God on our nation's coinage:

"My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto [In God We Trust] on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any use which tends to cheapen it, and above all, any use which tends to secure it being treated in a spirit of levity, is from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted. It is a motto which it is indeed well to have inserted on our great national monuments, in our temples of justice, in our legislative halls, and in buildings such as those at West Point and Annapolis - in short, wherever it will tend to arouse and inspire a lofty emotion in those who look thereon. But it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins, just as it would be to cheapen it by use on postage stamps, or in advertisements."

The MS67 eagle we offer in this lot displays beautiful yellow-gold surfaces with faint greenish undertones and a few splashes of deeper orange-gold. The luster is intense, and the design features are well impressed, all of which exhibit crisp definition. The surfaces are immaculately well preserved; for the sake of accuracy, we note just one tiny, unobtrusive mark on the Indian's cheek, and a couple of equally trivial nicks on the reverse. All in all, this coin generates exceptional eye appeal, and is sure to draw the attention of serious Indian Head gold collectors.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28GJ, PCGS# 8859)

View all of [The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens $10 Indians ]

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Auction Dates
January, 2009
7th-11th Wednesday-Sunday
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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