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Elusive, Satiny Near-Gem 1911-D Eagle

1911-D $10 MS64 NGC. Why did the Denver Mint produce so few small gold coins in 1911? The Philadelphia Mint made 704,000 Indian Head quarter eagles in 1911, but Denver coined only 55,680--less than one-tenth as many. For half eagles Philadelphia produced 915,000, but Denver manufactured only 72,500--again less than one-tenth as many. And for eagles, while Philadelphia minted 505,500 pieces, Denver managed a skimpy 30,100 coins, a figure that is about 6% of the Philadelphia emission.
The answer may lie with the Lincoln cent and double eagle: 1911 was the first year that Denver produced the new-style cent, and its production totaled nearly 13 million pieces, a large emission for D-mint minor coinage of the era (for example, Barber dimes were typically manufactured only to the extent of about 4 million pieces in the first few years of the Denver Mint, opened in 1906).
At the other end of the coinage spectrum, we find that in 1909 and 1910 Denver produced 52,500 and 429,000 double eagles, respectively, while in 1911 the double eagle emission was 846,500 pieces, a record that stood for more than a decade.
All the available evidence points to simple supply-and-demand factors as the explanation for the tiny emission of the 1911-D eagle and its siblings. All three coins are keys to their respective series. Of the eagle, Garrett and Guth say that "this is the undisputed condition rarity to the entire series; it is difficult to locate in all grades and especially so in gem MS-65. A mere three coins have been graded (all by PCGS) as MS-65, with none that high by NGC or ANACS. In the challenging grade of MS-64 the services have graded a combined 24 coins. Most of the survivors are sharply struck and show ample luster. The low mintage combined with the dismal survival rate leaves collectors with very few to choose from."
This high grade specimen exhibits bright, satiny luster with a uniform overlay of orange patina. A few trivial blemishes are noticed on the obverse portrait, but they are only discernible after close examination. The reverse die is rotated about 15 degrees counterclockwise with respect to the obverse, an unusual trait for U.S. gold of the era. Other than a few mass-melted rarities among 20th century gold, this Choice Mint State 1911-D certainly ranks among the most valuable and prestigious gold coins from the past 100 years. Census: 14 in 64, 0 finer (12/07).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28GU, PCGS# 8869)

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Auction Dates
January, 2008
9th-12th Wednesday-Saturday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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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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