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    MCMVII Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, MS66
    Famous High Relief Design
    Scarcer Flat Rim Variant

    1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim, MS66 PCGS. The 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle, with Roman Numerals in the date, is acknowledged as the most beautiful design ever employed on a circulation-strike U.S. coin. These iconic coins were the result of a lengthy collaboration between famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was encouraged to develop the design by President Theodore Roosevelt, and Chief Engraver Charles Barber of the Philadelphia Mint. The high relief of the design made the coins especially hard to produce in the modern era of high-speed coinage, and the collaboration often degenerated into open conflict between Mint personnel and the artist over the practicality of the High Relief as a circulating issue. Many of Barber's objections were valid, but Roosevelt was determined to see the project through to completion, even after Saint-Gaudens died of stomach cancer in August of 1907. He insisted that as much of the artist's original vision as possible be preserved on the coins, regardless of the adjustments and extra work the project caused the Mint. After several reductions from the original design had been negotiated between the two camps, production was finally begun in late August or early September, and continued through the remainder of the year.

    Despite the agreed-upon reductions, each coin still required three blows from the 150-ton medal press to completely bring up the design, and the planchets had to be annealed between each blow. The average time needed to strike each individual coin was 12 minutes, clearly still too slow to strike any large number of coins, but Roosevelt was adamant that at least a token mintage be struck without further delay. By running three medal presses simultaneously and scheduling numerous overtime shifts, the Mint succeeded in producing a reported 12,367 High Relief double eagles before production ceased in early January, enough to satisfy Roosevelt's desire to showcase the new design to the world. Meanwhile, Barber worked tirelessly to lower the relief of the design again, and succeeded in producing a low relief version of the design that was suitable for regular coinage. The low relief Saint-Gaudens double eagles were an artistic and practical success, and the design was continued successfully until 1933.

    About 70% of surviving High Relief double eagles exhibit a fin, or Wire Rim around the edge of the coin, caused by the extrusion of metal through the tiny gap between the collar and the die during striking. This feature was considered undesirable and the Mint worked hard to eliminate it. By slightly changing the diameter and upset angle of the planchets, the Mint found it possible to strike coins with a Normal, or Flat Rim around the edge. These changes were made around the middle of December, and coins struck during the final few weeks of production (including the present coin) are of the scarcer Flat Rim variety. PCGS has begun to differentiate between the two varieties in their Population Report, but the issues have not been collected separately until recent times.

    The coin offered here is a stunning Premium Gem, with the expected razor-sharp definition on the central design elements (the Flat Rim coins are usually better-struck at the peripheries than their Wire Rim counterparts). The vivid orange-gold surfaces are free of visible defects and the fields show the swirling polish lines typical of this issue. Vibrant mint luster completes the astounding aesthetic package. Population (Flat Rim): 53 in 66 (2 in 66+), 11 finer (10/17).
    From The Burgess Lee Berlin, M.D., J.D. Collection of Important United States Rarities. (Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9136)

    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 ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    3rd-8th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 506

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    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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