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Appealing Matte Proof 1912 Double Eagle, PR66

1912 $20 PR66 NGC. The usual, oft-repeated bromide concerning the Roman Finish or Satin Finish proof gold struck in 1909 and 1910 is that numismatists preferred the new finish over the dark matte proofs of 1908. The truth, as reported by Roger Burdette's Renaissance of American Coinage, is that collectors actually disliked the second finish even more, prompting the Mint in exasperation to throw up its figurative hands and revert to the matte proof finish in 1911, retaining it in its basic form until the end of the series. The 1912 coins were sandblasted after being struck, producing a multifaceted, sparkling appearance. The finish was not as dark as on the 1908 coins--yet still a far cry from the 1909 and 1910 pieces. The new process tended to produce a uniform, instantly recognizable surface, "dark yellow-gold" according to Garrett and Guth. The mintage was reported as only 74 specimens, a mark never again equaled until the proof series' end in 1915. Garrett and Guth write that "this is one of the more available dates in Proof, with the number reported in the population reports as 78, with some obvious duplication as this number exceeds the number struck." Of course, it is also possible, if somewhat less likely, that a number of unrecorded proofs, perhaps a considerable number, were struck. Such hijinks were certainly not out of character for the Mint during much of its history, even though in the last few decades it has adopted a more sober demeanor and greater accountability.
The surfaces are consistently faceted throughout both sides, with a darker area on the eagle's lower breast feathers, and a couple of shiny spots on the highpoints of the obverse. However, these do not detract from the appeal but will serve as pedigree identifiers. As of (11/07) NGC has certified 29 pieces in PR66, with 13 pieces finer (the highest a single PR68 ).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GZ, PCGS# 9209)

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Auction Dates
January, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 5
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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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