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Impressive Roman Finish PR66 1909 Eagle

1909 $10 PR66 NGC. Ex: Lisa L. Numismatic lore states the matte or Roman finish proof gold coins of the 1908-1915 era were unpopular with collectors of the era. Proof gold mintages fail to reflect this, since the Indian types have proof mintages similar to their Liberty predecessors. Mintages appear more closely related to the cost of obtaining examples. For example, 1909 proof mintages for the quarter eagle, half eagle, eagle, and double eagle are respectively 139, 78, 74, and 67 pieces. But some collectors, even knowledgeable ones, did object to the proof finishes. According to Roger W. Burdette in his Renaissance of American Coinage 1905-1908, noted numismatist and future Treasury Secretary William Woodin wrote Assistant Secretary of the Treasure Abram Piatt Andrew on August 19, 1910. His letter includes the passage, "I am surprised at the statement that the dull finish of the gold proof coins was objected to by many collectors. If any collectors objected to this finish it was because they did not understand that the St. Gaudens [sic] designs are not adapted to the production of polished proofs. The present proofs of the St. Gaudens designs and of the Pratt designs are simply rotten. I know of no other word to express it."
The Mint tried to appease collectors accustomed to brilliant proofs with a semi-brilliant Roman finish on the 1909 and 1910 gold proofs. It was this Roman finish that Woodin criticized. He preferred sandblast matte proofs, which were used for the final years of proof gold production. The Roman finish pieces are brighter and more satiny than the sandblast proofs, and show intricate design detail better since they are less granular. They are also less distinctive than the sandblast proofs, which cannot be mistaken for business strikes.
This gently shimmering straw-gold Premium Gem is needle-sharp, and is essentially perfect aside from trivial contact beneath the O in OF. A pair of pinpoint strike-throughs of mint origin on Liberty's forehead and beneath her eye are also mentioned for pedigree purposes. UNITED STATES exhibits deceptive strike doubling. An undeniably important high quality offering of this rarely-seen proof issue. Census: 7 in 66, 5 finer (10/06).
From The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28HF, PCGS# 8891)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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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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