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    1907 High Relief Twenty Dollar, MS67
    Scarcer Flat Rim Variant

    1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim, MS67 PCGS. CAC. "A sculptor's work endures so long it is next to a crime for him not to do everything in his power to produce a good result."
    --Augustus Saint-Gaudens

    The enduring nature of Saint-Gaudens' work was first impressed on him as a cameo cutter in his early teens, when he was apprenticed to Louis Avet, the master cutter in New York City. It is this awareness of the timeless nature of sculpture that drove him to produce images that were as lifelike as possible, a drive that can only be described as a pursuit for perfection. Even though the obverse of his ten and twenty dollar gold pieces from 1907 were reductions from previous works, that did not prevent Saint-Gaudens (and his assistant Henry Hering) from taking two and a half years to complete the dies for each coin. The pursuit of excellence, realism, and an ideal balance of form and features is abundantly evident on his coins. The High Relief double eagle best exemplifies not only Saint-Gaudens' pursuit for perfection but also his ability to know how to best exhibit his creation: in high relief. Each coin required multiple blows from a hydraulic press, a press that was normally reserved for the striking of medals. Thus, each High Relief twenty exhibits the medal-like appearance unique among American coins, a quality that has retained an enduring popularity with collectors for more than a century.

    This piece was struck during the final month of production, in December 1907, as seen by the so-called Flat Rim. The subject of the rim of these coins was pointedly addressed by Mint Director Leach in a letter dated December 6, when he upbraided by Superintendent Landis, where in part he stated:

    "I was exceedingly humiliated today to have the Secretary of the Treasury call attention to the excessive burr, or fin, on one of the new double eagle pieces now being distributed.

    "I wish you to make [an] investigation and see why my instructions were not carried out, and if there was any negligence or carelessness, who is to blame."



    The "burr" or "fin" Landis refers to in his letter is what we know today as the "wire rim." As one can tell from the excerpt above, finning on the rim was not a desirable trait, rather a defect that Mint personnel had to work out. They did at least partially solve it, but in reality the rim is almost never seen truly flat; rather, it is a matter of degree. So-called Flat Rim High Relief twenties show significantly less finning than their Wire Rim counterparts. It is an interesting numismatic development that the Wire Rim twenties evolved from a Mint defect into a valuable and collectible variant of the High Relief twenty. This particular coin shows minimal finning around the margins of each side, where the collar and die faces met. Each side is bright and frosted, and the strike details are complete with just the slightest bit of reddish patina present over essentially unabraded surfaces.
    From The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection. (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 Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    14th-18th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
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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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