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    Premium Gem 1907 High Relief Twenty
    A Complete Wire Rim is Present
    Exceptional Quality

    1907 $20 High Relief, Wire Rim MS66 NGC. CAC. Robert Gould Shaw was born in October 1837. Commander during the Civil War of the all-black 54th Regiment, he died in 1863 at age 25 along with many of his men in a failed attempt to wrest control of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina, from the Confederates. An idealist and Unitarian, Shaw was exposed at a young age to the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Upon taking command of the regiment, when he learned that the black soldiers would receive less pay than white ones, he urged his men to boycott until the injustice was rectified and they received full back pay.
    Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed the Shaw Memorial in Boston to commemorate Shaw's heroism, and Shaw would later become the principal subject of the 1989 movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick. Clearly, Saint-Gaudens viewed his work on the Shaw Memorial to be of paramount importance, taking an extraordinarily long time to work on the piece. Henry J. Duffy and John Dryfhout write in Augustus Saint-Gaudens: American Sculptor of the Gilded Age:

    "The composition grew from the original concept of an equestrian statue of Shaw alone to a great sculptural relief that includes the marching men. The twenty-three individually modeled faces of the infantrymen in the final piece are represented in five sketch models from the forty originally done. These heads, modeled from life, provided the sculptor a full range in age and character. Moreover, the work represents perhaps the first time that African Americans were represented realistically in sculpture, not as stereotypes. ..."

    From concept to creation, the sculptor worked on the monument for 14 years, and tweaking the design even after it was unveiled.
    In numismatic terms, Saint-Gaudens also took an extraordinarily long time to design and create the plaster models for the ten and twenty dollar gold pieces -- although there is nothing like a bit of presidential pressure from a Rough Rider to speed things up a bit. President Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens agreed on the initial concept -- three high-relief coin designs recalling that of ancient Greece -- during dinner at the White House in 1905. Saint-Gaudens died in August 1907, never having seen the coins released into circulation. He saw earlier versions of the ten and twenty dollar coins, their designs modified after his death to meet the needs of high-speed Mint production and to stack properly. It is generally unappreciated, however, that the speed at which Saint-Gaudens worked on the ten and twenty dollar gold coin designs was rapid, relative to other commissions. One wonders if Saint-Gaudens' knowledge that he had cancer or the impending end of Roosevelt's presidential term -- he declined to run for reelection in 1908 -- had the greater influence.
    The care Saint-Gaudens gave to this presidential commission is readily evident when one views this high-grade example struck in High Relief. It gives the viewer a true three-dimensional effect, and the surfaces glow with bright, satiny mint luster. There are no apparent contact marks on either side, certainly none that can be used as pedigree identifiers. The wire rim encircles each side, and as usual is more pronounced on the obverse.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26F2, PCGS# 9135)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2013
    9th-14th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 704

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) 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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