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    Description

    1909 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, PR67
    Only 67 Examples Distributed
    Ex: Phillip H. Morse

    1909 $20 PR67 PCGS Secure. The artistic matte, or sandblast, finish used on proof coins in 1908 proved unpopular with collectors and Philadelphia Mint Superintendent John Landis decided to switch to a brighter, satin finish in 1909. This Satin finish (called "Roman" finish by Walter Breen) was accomplished by simply eliminating the sandblasting step from the manufacturing process. The coins were struck on the medal press from new proof dies, giving them a sharper than usual strike and a satiny sheen from the unworn dies. The finished product was decidedly brighter than the dark matte surfaces of the sandblast proofs, but the slightest wear on the coins would render them indistinguishable from the regular-issue double eagles of 1909. In fact, new research by Roger W. Burdette indicates that 201 proof double eagles were struck in 1909, but only 166 examples were accepted as proofs. The 35 coins rejected because of minor imperfections were simply released into circulation as business strikes. This eliminated the extra bookkeeping and work necessary to melt and restrike these specimens. Of the 166 acceptable proofs, only 67 examples were actually sold, making the 1909 issue one of the most elusive proofs of the Saint-Gaudens series.

    The proofs began appearing at auction at least as early as the Charles H. Conover Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1914), where lot 19 was a complete gold proof set of 1909:

    "1909 $20, $10, $5, $2.50. The new semi-brilliant surface, which has been used on all gold proof coins since 1909. Complete set. Four Pieces. Very rare."


    The lot realized $40 for the four coin set (face value $37.50), typical of the low premiums realized by gold proofs in that era. As a result of this kind of low return on investment when the coins were offered at auction, many proof sets were broken up by their owners, and the large denomination coins were simply spent for face value. Twenty dollars was a significant sum of money in 1909, too much for the average collector to tie up during hard financial times. When numismatic interest in double eagles finally developed in this country, after 1933, most gold proof sets had long-since been broken up, and proof double eagles were rare. Currently, PCGS and NGC have combined to certify 53 coins between them, but the population data is heavily skewed by resubmissions and crossovers (10/17). Probably no more than 35 examples are extant in all grades today. A single specimen is included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

    The present coin is one of the finest survivors, a delightful Superb Gem, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements. The pleasing yellow-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved and show the fine-grained texture typical of the Satin finish proofs. Overall visual appeal is tremendous. This coin traces its history to the famous collection of Phillip H. Morse, a mark of distinction for any Saint-Gaudens double eagle. When the Morse Collection was sold by Heritage in 2005, this coin realized a staggering price of $195,500, still the record price for this issue today. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called.
    Ex: Sam and Rie Bloomfield Collection (Sotheby's, 12/1996), lot 35, realized $46,200; Phillip H. Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 6563, realized $195,500; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 3630, realized $184,000.
    From The Burgess Lee Berlin, M.D., J.D. Collection of Important United States Rarities. (Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26GW, PCGS# 9206)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Burgess Lee Berlin, M.D., J.D. Collection of Important United States Rarities ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-8th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,118

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse and Steven Duckor Collections
    Revised Edition by Roger Burdette, and edited by James L. Halperin and Mark Van Winkle

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles is an issue-by-issue examination of this 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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