Important Superb Gem Proof 1911 Eagle
1911 $10 PR67 NGC. At the PR67 grade level, it matters
little that the proof mintage of the 1911 eagle was a nominal
production of 95 pieces, as opposed to the 1912's figure of 83
pieces or that of the 1913, at 71 coins. The fact is, all matte
proof gold is rare to a considerable degree, and as one moves up
the grade scale, the rarity becomes remarkably more pronounced.
Generally speaking, the larger-denomination matte proof gold
pieces, all else being equal, are also rarer, as they were more
subject both to contact marks and financial attrition during an
economically turbulent 20th century.
The 'Saint-Gaudens' Little Sister' Design
Mike Fuljenz writes in Indian Gold Coins of the 20th Century:
"There were just 95 Proofs minted in 1911 and an estimated 25-30 pieces are known today. Proof 1911 Eagles are seen with two types of finish: dark matte and sandblast. ... Proofs are very rare with most survivors in the PR64 to PR66 range."
We believe the number of survivors is somewhat larger than Fuljenz's estimate, in the range of 30-45 coins. Further confirmation of the extreme conditional rarity of this coin comes from our own records and the certified population data. We know of only a half-dozen or so auction appearances of Superb Gem certified specimens in the last 20-plus years, with none finer. A PR67 NGC example in American Numismatic Rarities' March 2006 auction, lot 1331, brought $80,500, where the cataloger wrote passively, "No finer example has ever been seen by us."
A couple of months previous to that appearance, we offered another PR67 NGC piece in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 3555, a mustard-colored dark matte proof that brought $69,000. Those are the most recent auction appearances of a Superb Gem 1911 eagle that we can account for. The population data show two PR67 PCGS examples and one PR67+, while NGC has seen nine submissions at the PR67 level and three in PR68 -- figures that we believe may be considerably inflated by resubmissions (3/11).
The present example appears to be more of the dark sandblast variety -- although the distinctions sometimes drawn here are continuum rather than dichotomy. Even mustard color prevails with just a hint of khaki over both sides, and the surfaces are finely granular throughout. A faint alloy spot in the field just above the end of the eagle's tail feather identifies this piece for provenance purposes, along with a pronounced wire rim around the reverse (none appears around the obverse). A tremendous appealing -- and tremendously important -- proof representative of the "Saint-Gaudens' little sister" design.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26YC, PCGS# 8893)
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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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