Conditionally Rare Premium Gem 1909 Indian Eagle1909 $10 MS66 PCGS. In his 1988 A Handbook of 20th-Century United States Gold Coins, David Akers writes: "The 1909 in Mint State almost always has a beautiful, highly lustrous, satiny finish that is not very different from the Proofs. The strike is invariably sharp and the color is typically a light to medium greenish yellow gold or a rich yellow gold." Akers also notes: The 1909 is one of the rarest Philadelphia Mint issues, surpassed only by the 1933, 1907 Rolled Edge and the 1908 No Motto."
When compared to the well-known 1908-S rarity, for example, the 1909 is comparably rare in Gem grade, despite a mintage for the 1909 that is almost three times higher than that of the '08-S. In MS66, it actually edges out its mintmarked cohort. PCGS has certified nine 1909s in MS66, with only two coins finer, while it has graded 10 1908-S coins in MS66, with eight pieces in MS67 and two examples in MS68! A similar situation exists at NGC, which has graded five 1908-S eagles in MS66, with six finer; yet it has certified only three examples of the 1909 in MS66, with three MS67s finer (11/08).
As observed by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, in their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, 1795-1933 (2006): "Surviving examples are typical of the quality for the Philadelphia Mint of the period, being sharply struck and showing radiant luster. This date is certainly underrated, but collectors can use this to their advantage to secure a pristine example (before the true rarity of this coin is understood and it becomes properly valued)."
It is more than likely that the two finer-graded PCGS examples of the 1909 (both MS67) are in strong hands, making this coin essentially among the handful of finest obtainable. And what a glorious coin it is, with dazzling cartwheel luster beaming from the yellow-gold, mint-green, and orange-gold surfaces. The strike is crisp and bold throughout. Were it not for a single tick on the Indian's cheek, just behind the mouth, this coin might merit an even finer grade. As it stands, it is as desirable as it is rare.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 28GM, PCGS# 8862)
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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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