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1907 PR65 High Relief Twenty
1907 $20 High Relief PR65 NGC. John Dannreuther pointed out
in the E-Sylum (2007) that the new one dollar gold
denomination that debuted in 1849 was actually the United States'
first high relief gold coinage. He noted that Mint Engraver James
B. Longacre used concave fields (convex dies) for the obverse of
the first two varieties -- the No L and the first With L
varieties--while the reverse dies had normal flat fields. But
because of the added stress in the center of the obverse which came
through to the reverse (anvil) dies, Longacre was forced to switch
to flat fields for both sides.
A Magnificent, Fully Struck Example
The Saint-Gaudens twenties also were designed with deep concave fields (convex dies) on both sides, making it nearly impossible to fully strike them up without multiple blows of the press. They were also virtually impossible to produce as polished brilliant proofs, as Roger Burdette discusses in detail in his reference on the 1905-08 coinage.
The High Relief proofs were struck in a finish that Breen describes thusly in his Proof Encyclopedia:
"--Numerous, raised die-polishing lines on both sides. These appear in a random, swirling pattern. While also evident on currency strikes, these are particularly bold on Proofs.
"--Uniformly satiny surfaces, without any of the radial flowlines that produce conventional Mint luster."
Numerous other criteria are given by Breen and repeated by Dr. Robert Loewinger in his proof gold reference. While most of the NGC-certified proofs are of the Wire Rim (or Knife Rim) variety (a rather artificial distinction at any rate), a couple of pieces certified by NGC have been the Flat Rim variant.
Despite the many impracticalities involved in producing the High Relief coinage -- either as proofs or as business strikes -- fortunately for collectors today, President Roosevelt's insistence on his "pet crime" ensured that eventually 12,367 circulation strikes were made, plus a small quantity of proofs that were subjected to extra blows of the press. This is such a coin, and the extra effort is abundantly evident. All the pillars on the Capitol building are fully brought up, and the letters on the upper reverse are fully separated from the rim. Only the slightest trace of a wire rim can be seen on each side. The swirling die polish lines give the coin a brightness not usually seen on High Reliefs, and a slight scuff on the sun on the lower reverse is the only remotely mentionable interruption in the glowing, satiny mint luster. (NGC ID# 28AX, PCGS# 9132)
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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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