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Exceptional 1908-D No Motto Ten Dollar, MS66

1908-D $10 No Motto MS66 PCGS. At the beginning of 1908 Frank Downer, Superintendent of the Denver Mint, faced the problem of producing new starred-edge eagles. In late January, he had been sent face dies, edge collars, and a sample mechanism for controlling the collar segments during striking. The Philadelphia Mint mechanics also sent drawings of how they thought the apparatus could be adapted to Denver's presses. Yet, it was up to Downer's staff to make it work.
Initial results were inconsistent, with most of the coins too thick and with many errors. The Philadelphia Mint sent out obverse dies made from a new hub and that helped considerably. As the Denver coining department staff gained experience, they successfully adapted the dies and edge collar device to their presses. Within a month production seemed to be moving along smoothly. Overall, use of a segmented edge collar to impart 46 (later 48) small stars on the coin's edge seems to have been easier to manage on the ten dollar coins than the twenties. With 210,000 pieces released for circulation of the 1908-D No Motto, along with a substantial double eagle production, it appears the Denver Mint had successfully adapted its presses to the new design.
As we mention in our Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens book, it is interesting to note that the 1908-D eagle is the only branch mint issue to have the mintmark placed to the upper left of the olive branch. On all subsequent dates, it appears to the left of the arrow points.
In top grades, the 1908-D No Motto is scarce with few examples certified above MS63. In his cataloging of the Dr. Thaine Price collection, David Akers contends that:

"Despite its 210,000 mintage figure, which is only moderately low by Indian Head Eagle standards, the 1908-D No Motto is very difficult to locate in any Uncirculated grade, and nearly all known mint state specimens fall well short of the Choice category. In Choice Uncirculated condition, the 1908-D No Motto is rare and above that level it is very rare. True Gems ... can be counted on the fingers of one hand and rank among the rarest and most desirable issues in the series."

Moreover, in his 1988 treatise titled A Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins, Akers states that: "this is one of the least attractive [issues], due largely to the fact that it is generally flatly struck on the obverse and is decidedly lackluster." However, he goes on to say that there are a small number of exceptions, notably the "superb Kruthoffer coin, and ... a very few others as well, but most are weak and dull."
This Premium Gem piece is definitely one of the exceptions. The surfaces are bright and frosted with an accent of orange-gold color around the margin on the reverse. The design elements are well impressed, and strong granularity is present over each side, as always. Surprisingly sharp for the issue with no obvious or mentionable abrasions. One of only 10 pieces so graded by both of the major services in MS66. A mere three coins have been certified finer (all by NGC).
Ex: The Kutasi Collection (Heritage Auction Galleries, 1/2007), lot 3163.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles.
(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 28GH, PCGS# 8854)

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

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Auction Dates
January, 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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