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Description

'Matte' PR67 1912 Saint-Gaudens Twenty
Fine-Grained Sandblast Proof Specimen

1912 $20 PR67 NGC. The 1912 proof Saint-Gaudens double eagle was manufactured to the extent of a reported 74 pieces, although David Akers and other experts are quick to point out that the more unpopular an issue was, the greater the likelihood that unsold examples were melted at the end of the year. Akers writes in his Handbook that the 1912 double eagles were sandblasted, "unlike the preceding matte finish issues from 1908 and 1911"; the 1909 and 1910 were produced in the Roman gold or satin finish, which was even more universally disliked among collectors. The truth is both more elusive and more difficult, as all of the matte proof gold coins were produced by sandblasting. The finishes vary from year to year, and even from coin to coin within a year and a particular finish.
In The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse Collection, the authors write:

" ... The term 'matte' was not used until contemporary times, as it was not as descriptive as 'sandblast.'
"The sandblast proofing process was hardly unique to American coinage. Europeans, particularly the British and the French, had already been using it for several years on their specialty coins and medals. The U.S. Mint in the late 19th century had also occasionally sandblasted medals. The coins were struck on hydraulic medal presses that produced more striking pressure than the conventional presses used for normal coinage. Planchets were still specially selected, but the dies were not polished. Instead, they were inserted in the high pressure medal press and struck once. The resultant coin possessed sharper detail overall, and often, a high, sharp fin rim from excess metal that squeezed into the tiny space between the dies and the collar. After striking, the coins were taken to a small enclosed 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."


The 1912 issue is renowned for the sparkling individual facets or fine grains that appear clearly on this coin when examined with a loupe. The surfaces are yellow-gold overall, with a slight greenish undertone. A full wire rim encircles the obverse and most of the reverse, save for the upper portion. The only mentionable flaw, not discernible at all angles, is a small near-shiny area near the bend in Liberty's knee. Census: 12 in 67, 1 finer (6/11).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GZ, PCGS# 9209)

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Auction Dates
August, 2011
11th-14th
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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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