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1909 'Roman Finish' Twenty, PR66
Two-Year Proofing Method
Very Rare and Popular With Collectors Today

1909 $20 PR66 NGC. After the Mint received a nearly unanimous rejection of the matte proofing process introduced in 1908, officials attempted to appease the collecting community in 1909 by striking proofs in what we now call the "Roman Finish." The difference between the two finishes was profound, especially when an example of each is placed next to the other. The finish used in 1909 and 1910 was essentially a non-finish. Instead the coins were struck from with special dies on special planchets, but unlike the previous sandblasted coins these pieces received no post-striking treatment. The so-called "Roman Finish" was really just the use of special dies on untreated planchets. Some brightness is seen on the coin overall, but it is not necessarily limited to the fields, as seen on proofs struck prior to 1902. Again, collectors were not impressed. Many could not tell the difference between the "Roman Finish," which has also been called a "bright proof," or "new style proof," or "yellow proof" and a fully struck coin produced for circulation. The highly influential William Woodin (later Secretary of the Treasury under Franklin Roosevelt) commented to Assistant Treasury Secretary A. Piatt Andrew: "The present [satin] proofs of the Saint-Gaudens design are simply rotten. I know of no other word to express it ... "
A mere 67 pieces were struck using this proofing process, one that lasted only two years. We believe only 30 to 40 individual twenties of this date are known today in all grades. Both services have certified a total of 57 coins in all grades from PR62 to PR68. A small cluster of submission events is seen at the NGC PR66 level with eight pieces certified.
One can easily see why these coins were called bright proofs or yellow proofs. This piece is both bright and yellow. The fields show very fine granularity when examined closely with a loupe. There are no obvious defects we can point to as a ready pedigree identifier. While this bright finish proof was unpopular when struck, it has become one of the most desirable of all 20th century coins for modern collectors.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GW, PCGS# 9206)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th Tuesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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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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