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Description

Remarkable 1909 'Roman Finish'
Indian Half Eagle, PR67

1909 $5 PR67 NGC. Paraphrasing from our description of "The Matte Proofing Process" (page 36) in The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse Collection, when the Mint introduced four new gold coinage designs in 1908, it was determined, due to the extreme curvature of the dies, that the old method of producing proof gold could not be used, in which portions of the coins would turn out with brilliant mirrored fields. A "sandblast" method was used, in which the newly produced gold pieces were taken to an industrial cabinet and "carefully sandblasted on each side with a stream of fine, industrial sand to impart a dull, grainy effect. The fineness of the particles and skill of the workman doing the sandblasting governed the shade and appearance of the particular coin, ranging from light yellow-gold, to light brown, to deep khaki-green color."
Some numismatists liked the new finish. Most did not, however, and in the following year 1909 the Mint tried a new so-called Roman gold finish. Breen describes it as "satiny, semi brilliant, pale lemon color." The present coin shows two different perspectives on the Roman finish gold, depending on the distance from which the observer looks at the coin. From a distance, it is remarkable how bright the fields are. The piece appears bright yellow-gold, with a slight hint of reddish patina. Up close, however, the observer notes the fine-grained mattelike surfaces, in which tiny individual grains stand out. As expected of the grade, essential contact is nonexistent, and the NGC Star appellation justly confirms the overwhelming appeal. A fine wire rim appears around the entire reverse and nearly all of the obverse. In PR67 this piece is one of three pieces so graded, and there are two finer, both PR68 without the Star (1/10).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 25ZS, PCGS# 8540)

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Auction Dates
February, 2010
3rd-7th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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