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    MCMVII High Relief, Flat Edge Twenty, MS67
    Far More Elusive Than the Wire Rim Variety
    Ex: Akers-Duckor

    1907 $20 High Relief, Flat Rim, MS67 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Fox-Duckor-Akers. There is some confusion about the mintage figures for the 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Official Mint documents are inconsistent on the number of coins delivered, with Mint Director Frank Leach reporting the mintage as 11,250 pieces and other sources stating significantly higher totals. Handwritten annotations on official letters indicate 1,246 High Relief double eagles were subsequently melted, further confusing the issue. Recent research by Roger W. Burdette indicates the most accurate estimate of the final mintage is 12,367 examples, making it by far the smallest production total of any regular-issue coin in the series.

    Fortunately, the High Reliefs have an unusually high survival rate. None were destroyed by assay testing and many examples were sold to presidential friends, cabinet members, and other VIP's, who preserved them carefully over the years. Four examples are included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and other institutional collections preserve at least 17 more specimens. The bulk of the mintage was sent to Subtreasuries for normal distribution, but few examples ever saw circulation. Treasury officials, clerks, and managers scooped up most of the coins sent through normal channels and either kept them as souvenirs or resold them at a profit to coin dealers. David Akers commented on this situation as a guest cataloger when we sold the coin offered here in our sale of the Dr. and Mrs. Steven Duckor Collection (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 4601:

    "The entire mintage of the MCMVII High Relief, both varieties included, was only 12,367 pieces, by far the lowest mintage figure of any regularly issued Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Because they were so beautiful and unusual in comparison to the previous Liberty Head design, they were saved by the collecting public and rarely, if ever, actually used in normal commerce. So a large percentage of the original mintage has survived with most of them in choice uncirculated or higher grades including more truly superb examples than are known of all but a couple of other very common dates in the series."

    Roger Burdette estimates the surviving population at about 8,000 examples in all grades today.

    Akers mentioned two varieties of High Relief twenties, categorized as the Wire Rim and Flat Edge varieties today. In a 1989 lot description of a different coin Akers noted:

    "... it was not the mint's intention to strike two different varieties. The varieties actually occurred by accident when the first pieces struck (the Wire Rim coins) were struck using a collar that either did not fit properly or was insufficiently tight. The pressure from the repeated blows required to bring up the design properly forced metal up where the edge of the coin meets the collar to form a thin wire rim."

    The Wire Rim was considered a serious flaw by Mint Director Leach, as it prevented the coins from stacking properly, making counting operations by clerks and bank tellers much more complicated. Also, the Wire Rim would wear down quickly in everyday use and the coins would be underweight after only a short time in circulation. Leach was determined to eliminate the troublesome feature and, after much experimentation, he succeeded in producing the Flat Edge coins, by carefully altering the dimensions and upset angle of the planchets (the problem was not with the collar, after all). All the coins produced through mid-December of 1907 were of the Wire Rim variety, about 70% of the reported High Relief mintage. The 3,870 examples struck after December 20 were of the Flat Edge variety, about 30% of the total production. Traditionally, the two varieties have sold for about the same price, making the Flat Edge coins seem underrated and underpriced by comparison. Recently, collector knowledge about the comparative rarity of the Flat Edge coins has resulted in slightly higher prices for the issue in auctions we have monitored. Recent sales include the stunning MS67 PCGS example in our ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2019), lot 3958, that realized $312,000.

    The present coin is a delightful Superb Gem specimen of the scarcer Flat Rim variety. It was purchased by David Akers in the 1980s and sold to Dr. Steven Duckor, as he recounts:

    "I purchased this coin at a coin show from dealer Silvano De Genova in the late 1980s and initially planned to keep it for my daughter because I thought it was so beautiful and exceptional, even by High Relief standards. The fact that it also was the much rarer Flat Rim variety made it all the more appealing. But I quickly had second thoughts and felt it really belonged in a superb, complete collection and so I sold it to Dr. Duckor instead."

    Dr. Duckor retained this piece in his remarkable collection until he sold his double eagles through Heritage in January of 2012. It has been a highlight of the Rollo Fox Collection ever since.

    This spectacular Flat Rim example is graded MS67 by PCGS and certified by CAC. The vivid orange-gold surfaces display hints of pale blue and violet patina. Both sides are virtually pristine, exhibiting soft, frosty mint luster throughout. The fields show the characteristic swirling lines from die polishing, although they can be perceived best on portions of the reverse, including the sun's face, the field just above, and the field area between TWENTY DOLLARS and the eagle's upper wing. The bold strike shows no weakness on either side. A loupe reveals a few tiny ebony flecks, including one on the left side of Liberty's neck. A small curved lint mark appears below the upright of the R in LIBERTY. Overall visual appeal is terrific. Population: 10 in 67 (1 in 67+), 1 finer. CAC: 4 in 67, 1 finer (8/19).
    Ex: Silvano Digenova; David Akers in the late 1980s; Dr. and Mrs. Steven Duckor Collection (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 4601; Rollo Fox Collection.

    David Akers (2012) Comments:

    The Flat Rim variety of the beautiful High Relief design was struck with dies from the same hubs as the Wire Rim version, but with a slightly revised edge collar. This was necessary because the fine and often irregular Wire Rim resulting from the collars initially used was deemed unsightly and thus unacceptable. In all other respects the two varieties are identical. Of the two High Relief varieties, the Flat Rim is substantially the rarer, at least three to five times as rare as the Wire Rim variety, yet the price difference between the two varieties is minimal in comparison to the difference in rarity.
    From The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold. (Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9136)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View all of [The Rollo Fox Collection of $20 Saint-Gaudens Gold ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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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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