Magnificent MS67 1916-S Eagle1916-S $10 MS67 PCGS. By the dawn of the 20th century, America's strikings of gold coins were meant increasingly for international consumption, not domestic; the nation's growing international prestige had made the dollar an in-demand global currency, at least in the context of the gold standard. The onset of World War I and the concurrent disintegration of international trade affected the United States Mint's production well before America formally entered the conflict. As described in the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins by Garrett and Guth, "Mintages fell with demand as our nation turned its attention to the unfolding events in Europe in late 1916, and coinage of eagles resumed with only a whimper in 1920."
Since so many of today's 1916-S eagle survivors are About Uncirculated or Mint State, this issue apparently did not circulate to any great extent, though as with its S-mint counterpart from a year earlier, the effort was made. Concerning the rarity of the 1916-S, David Akers writes in his May 19, 1998 catalog of The Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection:
"Three or four decades ago, the 1916-S was considered to be much more rare than it is today since nice Uncirculated examples were almost never available then. However, in the mid-to-late 1970's, several hoards were discovered containing perhaps 100-125 pieces, most of which were of average Uncirculated quality only. Subsequently, several other small groups were uncovered, adding to the overall population. As a result, the 1916-S is no longer considered a rare issue, but rather a very scarce one in terms of its overall rarity. However, true Gems are still very rare, much more so than they are commonly considered."
Earlier, in his 1988 work A Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins, Akers recounted the prevailing traits of coins that came from those hoards: most were boldly detailed, green-gold and rose-gold overall, with the luster surprisingly lacking, at least by the standards of the series as a whole, sentiments echoed by Garrett and Guth. The present coin, though it shares the strong strike, shows several other differentiating traits that suggest careful preservation over the decades, rather than the carelessness of a hoard origin.
The Superb Gem that we offer in this lot is one of just two tied for the finest certified 1916-S ten dollar piece, both certified by PCGS; NGC has never graded an MS67 or better example of this issue (11/08). Exquisitely preserved, subtly satiny surfaces yield gorgeous luster and delightfully variegated greenish-gold and orange-gold patina, the typical coloration seen on coins that did not come out of either of the two prevailing hoards. A sharp strike brings out excellent detail on the design elements, and both sides have been meticulously cared for. A tiny toning spot at the juncture of the Indian's chin and neck, and a linear graze in the upper left reverse field pedigree the coin. This is a wonderful opportunity for the aficionado of Saint-Gaudens ten dollar coinage, one that has been recognized and acquired by the foremost collectors of the series for decades.
From The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 28H7, PCGS# 8880)
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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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