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    Description

    1907 Ultra High Relief Twenty Dollar, PR68
    Ex: Saint-Gaudens Estate
    First Time Ever Offered at Public Auction, and Off the Market Since the Early 1970s

    1907 Ultra High Relief $20 Inverted Edge Letters, "ASG" on Edge, PR68 by both NGC and PCGS Secure.


    1. "I am not at all sure how long I shall be permitted to have such a coin in existence; but I want for once at least to have had this nation, the great republic of the West, with its extraordinary facility of industrial, commercial and mechanical expression, do something in the way of artistic expression that shall rank with the best work of the kind that has ever been done."

      Theodore Roosevelt to Mint Director Roberts, December 26, 1906
      BEGINNINGS

      The involvement of President Theodore Roosevelt with the production of new ten and twenty dollar gold coins has been extensively researched and quoted almost since the day they were struck. It is generally assumed Roosevelt first involved Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the project at a White House dinner on January 12, 1905. But the two had a relationship that predated that historic dinner by several years. Saint-Gaudens was involved with the short-lived Senate Park Commission, a small group of artists and architects that was involved with examining ways to improve the appearance of parks in Washington, D.C. Roosevelt and Saint-Gaudens both had a small part in this commission. Saint-Gaudens had minimal involvement because of other private commissions, and Roosevelt had a small part because the project interested him and he was thoroughly bored with being William McKinley's vice-president. Both men's occasional involvement with the commission reacquainted each with the other; on Roosevelt's part it reaffirmed his high opinion of the sculptural work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After the assassination of McKinley in 1901 and subsequent election of Theodore Roosevelt in his own right in 1904, the two men's paths crossed again when the subject of Roosevelt's inaugural medal came up. Roosevelt and several notable artists condemned Charles Barber's design for the 1905 inaugural medal. Roosevelt wanted Saint-Gaudens to create a better design and he sought outside funding to pay for the medal which was ultimately designed by Saint-Gaudens and modeled by Adolph Weinman. In his thank-you note to Saint-Gaudens for the inaugural medal design he hand-wrote a postscript below his signature: "I feel just as if we had suddenly implanted a little of Greece of the 5th or 4th centuries B.C. into America; and am very proud and very grateful that I personally happen to be the beneficiary."

      Once he was elected in 1904, Theodore Roosevelt felt free to pursue what he later called his "pet crime," the redesign of the nation's coinage. The first written evidence we have of the president's intention to launch a redesign of the nation's coinage came only six weeks after his election and is contained in the often-quoted letter from Roosevelt to Secretary Treasury Leslie Mortier Shaw, dated December 27, 1904: "I think our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness. Would it be possible to employ a man like Saint- Gaudens to give us a coinage that would have some beauty?" The subject of the redesign was indeed broached at the January 12 dinner that is mentioned by most sources. It was at that time the president also mentioned the superior design and high relief of ancient Greek coinage, an opinion Saint-Gaudens shared. With this shared understanding as a basis, the president used the power of his office and guarantee of non-interference by Mint personnel as an incentive for Saint-Gaudens to address the subject of coinage redesign. The sculptor was willing, but other commissions and health complications stemming from stomach cancer understandably delayed progress.

      When studying the complete works of Augustus Saint-Gaudens it soon becomes apparent how often his works are self-referencing. The sweeping cloak of The Puritan (1883-1886) is similar in treatment to the windswept long coat of Admiral Farragut (1877- 1880). The striding figure of Liberty depicted on the twenty dollar gold coins of 1907 were adaptations from his Sherman Monument (1892-1903) combined with the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre. Even though the central figure of Liberty was an integral part of the coin's design at an early date, Saint-Gaudens adjusted the details for two years. A longer torch was considered and then rejected, an Indian headdress was used on a plaster model and then removed only to reappear on the ten dollar gold coin at President Roosevelt's suggestion. Wings were also added, then removed, as was a large shield.

      PRODUCTION DIFFICULTIES

      Saint-Gaudens experienced continuing pain from cancer in early 1906, but by May the designs for the double eagle were far enough along that he could have his assistant Henry Hering fine tune the remaining details. Hering had considerable experience with the design and production of medals, so he was the most qualified person in Saint-Gaudens' atelier to work with Mint personnel and strike the coins as Saint-Gaudens designed them. Reductions were made in Paris during the summer of 1906. Saint-Gaudens believed it was necessary to use the Paris firm because his brother Louis had encountered significant problems in the reductions for his medal of Benjamin Franklin made by Tiffany in New York. The problem that was not understood by either the president or the Mint Director Roberts was the difficulty in producing the high relief twenties lay not in the high relief of the coins; indeed the Mint had been producing medals in high relief for many years. The problem lay in the large diameter of the models Saint-Gaudens produced, making it virtually impossible to cut high relief hubs from them. (To our knowledge, this was first pointed out by Roger Burdette in his Renaissance of American Coinage, 1905-1908.) Saint- Gaudens' models varied from 11 to 14 inches in diameter. Mint specifications required 5 3/8 inch-diameter models. A Janvier reduction lathe was ordered from Dietsch Brothers in New York, ending six-month trans-Atlantic shipment of models needing reduction.

      On December 15, 1906, President Roosevelt first saw the large design models for the Liberty obverse and Flying Eagle reverse. He wrote Saint-Gaudens: "Those models are simply immense — if such a slang way of talking is permissible in reference to giving a modern nation one coinage at least which shall be as good as that of the ancient Greeks. ... I suppose I shall be impeached for it in Congress; but I shall regard that as a very cheap payment!"

      Roosevelt then enlisted Mint Director Roberts in the striking of the double eagles by reminding him of how important these pieces were to him. This was strongly reinforced in a letter in late 1906:

      "My dear Mr. Roberts:
      I suppose it is needless for me to write, but I do want to ask that you have special and particular care exercised in the cutting of that Saint Gaudens coin. Won't you bring the die in for me to see, even before you send it to Saint Gaudens? Of course the workmanship counts as much as the design in a case like this. I feel that we have the chance with this coin to make something as beautiful as the old Greek coinage. In confidence, I am not at all sure how long I shall be permitted to have such a coin in existence; but I want for once at least to have had this nation, the great republic of the West, with its extraordinary facility of commercial and mechanical expression, do something in the way of artistic expression that shall rank with the best work of the kind that has ever been done."

      Mint Director Roberts in turn enlisted the aid and support of San Francisco Mint Superintendent Frank Leach. Leach was familiar with the problems associated with the higher relief coins then being struck in San Francisco for Philippine and Mexican coins. In a letter dated January 4, 1907, Leach reminded Roberts of their recent visit and experiments with high relief coinage:

      "You will remember that when you were here [in November] we had some conversation about the possibility of striking pieces with this high relief, and I told you we could put the planchets in shape by manipulation of the milling machine. ... When they decide upon the design and have the dies made I should like very much to have an opportunity of experimenting with my method of making coins. Of course, if there is anything I can do in helping you out in this matter of the new coin, why do not be backward about calling upon me."

      CHARLES BARBER

      One theme that runs through the literature on the production of the Saint-Gaudens coinage is the obstructionism of Charles Barber. This is an easy case to make, and much of Barber's correspondence bears out this theme. But Charles Barber was not the one-dimensional character many make him out to be. He certainly was not an artist remotely near the level of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but he was certainly a capable die sinker who could lay out coin designs that required only one blow from the dies. He also knew that high relief coins were unsuited to mass production. Barber was willing to work with Mint officials and the president to produce first the Ultra High Relief experimental pieces and then the High Relief twenties. It seems unlikely that Charles Barber was the complete antagonist as he is often portrayed. He enlisted the support of the Dietsch Brothers when he knew he needed further training on the Janvier Reduction Lathe. He obviously recognized the inherent artistic merit of the Saint-Gaudens twenties as his estate contained eight "1907 $20 pattern pieces," believed by Roger Burdette to all be Ultra High Reliefs.

      Augustus Saint-Gaudens was apparently not as clear about the needs for commercial coin production. The sculptor seemed to believe a high relief coin or medal could be produced with a single blow from the dies. After he was told the first Ultra High Reliefs required seven blows from a hydraulic press to fully strike up, he sent his bill for $5000 to the Mint. Then the invoice was suspended in late February after he realized more work needed to be done.

      The first Ultra High Relief twenties were clearly experimental. The small number struck paired with the later slight reduction when the regular production High Relief twenties were finally produced in late 1907 underscore that the Ultra High Relief double eagles were pattern coins and experimental in nature.

      STRIKING THE COINS

      Chief Engraver Charles Barber finished the working dies for the Ultra High Relief double eagles and began striking the experimental coins by February 7, 1907. The striking process was an arduous one, as each coin required seven blows from a hydraulic medal press at a pressure of 150 tons to bring up the full details of the design in high relief. Between each blow the coins were annealed, with the coins heated to soften the metal and cooled in a mild solution of nitric acid to reduce oxidation on the surfaces. The coins were then dried and the process repeated until the design was fully brought up. The multiple annealings produced a finished coin with a thin layer of virtually pure gold on the surfaces. The coins were struck six times with a plain collar, and the final strike was accomplished with a triple-segmented lettered collar to apply the edge lettering. If more than one coin was struck on a given day, each piece would receive a single blow from the press, then all the coins would be annealed together, then each coin would be struck again, etc., until the process was completed. This was much more efficient than going through the whole process individually, coin by coin. The edge lettering varied in style and orientation, as different collars were used at different times, but all coins struck on the same day should show the same edge treatment since they were struck in groups, rather than individually.

      It seems that the Ultra High Reliefs were struck during three different striking periods, with four different edge treatments. The first striking period was from February 7-14, 1907, when at least three complete coins and one nearly finished piece were produced. The complete coins featured the simple Sans Serif Edge Lettering that was previously used on Barber's twenty dollar pattern from 1906, Judd-1773. The letters were oriented in the "inverted" position, with the words reading correctly when the edge of the coin is viewed with the obverse facing up. A star separates each letter around the edge. The multiple heavy blows from the medal press proved too stressful for the dies by the time the fourth coin was struck. This coin received the first six blows with the plain collar, but then the reverse die broke on the sixth strike and the coin never received the final blow with the lettered edge collar. This coin is the unique Plain Edge piece known to collectors today, and shows the dramatic die crack on the reverse at 8:30. One of the complete coins was acquired by Mint Director George Roberts and another was given by him to former Mint Director Robert Preston. The third complete piece was sent to Augustus Saint-Gaudens for examination, and returned by him on March 13. This coin may have ended up in Barber's extensive collection, along with the Plain Edge piece, as a 1916 inventory of his holdings included eight specimens of the Ultra High Relief.

      Barber also struck approximately 15 specimens of the small-diameter pattern double eagle, Judd-1917, during this time frame. Most of these coins were melted after Frank Leach became Mint director in late 1907. Only two examples of Judd-1917 are known today, both in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. With the reverse die broken, coinage of Ultra High Relief double eagles was suspended after February 15.

      Saint-Gaudens' assistant, Henry Hering, observed at least some of the early strikings and reported about the extensive striking process, which was obviously impractical for large-scale coining operations. Saint-Gaudens wrote to Roberts requesting examples of the Ultra High Relief at different points in the striking process, after one, two, five, and seven blows from the press had been administered. Roberts and Superintendent John Landis agreed to provide these samples, but Barber informed them on February 25 that:

      "The dies being broken, I can only furnish such pieces as I have of the Double Eagle in gold, new design, namely; first, second, third strike and a finished piece, and one impression of each diameter, in lead, without the lettering on the periphery.

      "I have no doubt that these will answer the desired purpose.

      "The finished coin is the best impression of the steel hub that can be furnished."

      The finished coin referred to is the coin which Saint-Gaudens returned on March13. Barber also mentions sending a lead striking of both the regular and small diameter double eagles, with no edge lettering, but these patterns are unknown to collectors today.

      Since both Landis and Roberts wanted specimens of the Ultra High Relief struck for the Mint Cabinet, Barber prepared a new reverse die and began a second striking period for the Ultra High Relief double eagles that lasted from March to July of 1907. Most of the coins we know about today were produced during this period, as probably 12 or 13 examples were struck. All the coins from the second striking period employed a new lettered edge collar, with Roman style lettering and stars separating the words, rather than being placed between each letter. The orientation of the edge lettering varies, with most specimens showing "normal" orientation, which reads correctly when the edge is viewed with the obverse facing down. It may be that the coins were struck with different orientations randomly, with one batch struck with Normal Edge Lettering one day and another batch struck with Inverted Edge Lettering the next. Heritage numismatist John Sculley suspects there was a more consistent pattern, however. Barber's 1906 twenty dollar pattern employed Inverted Edge Lettering and all the Ultra High Reliefs from the first striking period also show this orientation (except, of course for the unfinished Plain Edge piece). The coins from the second striking period included the two pieces struck for the Mint Cabinet, and the coin offered in this lot is one of those two coins (see History and Significance of the Present Coin below). It also shows Inverted Edge Lettering, and we suspect its sister coin in the National Numismatic Collection would show this orientation as well. This consistency suggests that this orientation was preferred by Barber, and possibly all the Inverted Edge Lettering examples with the Roman letters were struck in the early part of the second striking period. At some point it seems likely that the orientation was changed to the "normal" position, which was probably favored by Saint-Gaudens, who wanted the motto to arch over Liberty's head when the coin was held upright with the obverse facing and tilted slightly toward the viewer. The coins from the later part of the second striking period and all the pieces from striking period three were probably struck with Normal Edge Lettering.

      The third striking period took place on a single day, December 31, 1907. Three coins were struck on that day at the request of the new mint director, Frank Leach. Before the present coin was recently discovered, only three examples of the Ultra High Relief were known with Inverted Edge Lettering and it was believed that they were the three pieces from the third striking period. Now that at least four examples are extant, it is necessary to re-evaluate this theory. With this new information, it seems most likely that some of the specimens with Inverted Edge Lettering preceded the coins with Normal Edge Lettering in the emission sequence, and were struck in the early part of the second striking period.

      HISTORY AND SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PRESENT COIN

      On March 4, 1907, Mint Director George Roberts authorized Philadelphia Mint Superintendent John Landis to strike two examples of the Ultra High Relief double eagle for the Mint Cabinet. Unfortunately, the reverse die had broken after the first group of coins (with the Sans Serif Edge Lettering) were struck in early February. Accordingly, Chief Engraver Charles Barber prepared another working die from the original hub and struck the required examples for the Mint Cabinet, along with several other specimens, during the March-July, 1907 time frame. These coins also used a new collar, with more elaborate Roman style lettering and a different arrangement of the stars. The Mint Cabinet coins were probably among the first examples struck during this second striking period. The present coin was one of the two pieces struck for the Mint Cabinet, and it remained in that collection until George Kunz arranged for it to be loaned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for their Saint-Gaudens Memorial Exhibition, which ran through the first half of 1908.

      Meanwhile, Roberts resigned as mint director and was succeeded by Frank Leach, who had been the superintendent of the San Francisco Mint and had significant experience with gold coinage and the higher relief coins produced for Mexico and the Philippines. Few people had actually seen an example of the Ultra High Relief in late 1907, and Leach first saw a specimen on December 23, when former Mint Director Robert Preston showed him his coin. Leach was impressed with the Ultra High Relief and directed Landis to strike several more examples:

      "Mr. Preston showed me one of the D.E. struck on the medal press from the first model. It is a beautiful piece. If you have any more I would like three — one for the St. Gaudens people, one for the Secretary, one for myself, and if the President has not one I want another for him. I will not give these out until after the first of January or we would be bothered by all the officials and collectors in the country."

      The requested coins were struck on December 31, 1907, but Barber only struck three examples, presumably because he knew President Roosevelt already had a specimen. When Leach distributed the coins, he found that Roosevelt did want another piece, so he gave one to him, one to Treasury Secretary Courtelyou, and kept the third for himself, leaving none for the Saint-Gaudens estate. Following normal mint procedure, the obverse dies for 1907 coinage, including the Ultra High Relief obverse, were destroyed on January 2, 1908, so no other specimens could be struck.

      Unfortunately for Leach, his generous idea of giving Augusta Saint-Gaudens (the sculptor's widow) an example of her husband's finest work had not been kept confidential, despite his instruction to her lawyer that, "I think it would be well not to say anything to Mrs. Saint Gaudens about the trial pieces from the first model until I find out whether I can secure one or not." The Ultra High Relief coins were becoming well-known and quite valuable by early 1908. The Metropolitan Museum of Art insured the present coin for $1,000 when they borrowed it for their exhibition that year. Augusta Saint-Gaudens was a shrewd businesswoman, and she was devoted to keeping her husband's legacy alive for future generations. Although he had seen examples of the Ultra High Relief during the long process of striking the coins, Augustus Saint-Gaudens had never owned an example. Augusta wanted a specimen of this issue once she became aware of its existence. Both Augusta and her lawyer, Charles Brewster, corresponded with Leach and President Roosevelt about obtaining an example for the family. On April 17, 1908, Roosevelt issued an informal instruction that a new obverse die should be prepared with the 1908 date to strike another coin for her, if no other example was available. Leach conferred with other mint officials and decided it was more practical to give one of the coins in the Mint Cabinet to Augusta, and Roosevelt approved this suggestion on April 20, 1908. Charles Brewster sent payment of $20.12 to the Philadelphia Mint on her behalf on April 22, but Augusta had to wait until June 22 to receive her coin, after the Metropolitan Museum closed their exhibit.

      Augusta owned this Ultra High Relief for the rest of her life, but she placed it on long-term loan to the American Numismatic Society a few years later. ANS numismatist David Hill discovered the receipt for this transaction, dated December 1, 1910. (Figure 1) The coin was exhibited by the society in the 1914 ANS Exhibition, and an image of the coin was included in the catalog. Many numismatists have assumed the coin in the 1914 ANS Exhibition was the same one that is in their collection today, but that piece was acquired much later, from a bequest by collector Arthur J. Fecht. The present coin was last mentioned publicly in an article in the August 1949 edition of The Numismatist, written by Henry Hering, with a follow up by Martin Kortjohn. Kortjohn notes the following:

      "... the piece originally owned by Mr. Saint Gaudens is still the property of his estate and is now housed at the American Numismatic Society. It is marked with his initials on the edge."

      The coin offered here does show the initials ASG engraved on the edge, reminiscent of the D punched on the Dexter specimen of the Class I 1804 dollar, and positively identifying it as the coin Kortjohn refers to. (see Figures 2 and 3). It is impossible to say for certain exactly when the initials were placed on the edge, but Augusta might have thought it prudent to identify the coin before loaning it to the ANS, in case it was mixed up with other specimens. Although present-day numismatists frown on placing any mark on a high-grade coin, the practice was more accepted in earlier times, and certainly adds interest and character to the coin in this instance. This caution may have been justified, as the Saint-Gaudens coin was in the ANS collection along with the Fecht example for at least five years (1945-1950), and it would have been difficult to tell them apart if they had been displayed together. Homer Saint- Gaudens withdrew this coin and some other pieces on loan from the family collection in late 1950, as evidenced by the November 28-dated letter from ANS Secretary Sawyer Mosser to lawyer A. Carson Simpson in Figure 4 (thanks to David Hill for this information). Homer sold the Ultra High Relief to a private collector shortly afterward, and the coin was retained by his family until our consignor purchased it in the early 1970s.

      This coin is the only specimen positively traced to the estate of Augustus Saint-Gaudens and its discovery has increased our knowledge about the striking of these coins more than any other event since the publication of Roger W. Burdette's Renaissance of American Coinage in 2006. The fact that this piece is a fourth example of the Inverted Edge Lettering variety has forced numismatists to reconsider what we know about the relationship between the various styles of edge treatment on the coins and their emission sequence. The coin has never been offered publicly, and it is one of the finest examples known to the numismatic community. Shrouded in mystery and largely forgotten for decades, the dramatic reappearance of this historically important example is one of the most exciting numismatic events of recent years.




      President Theodore Roosevelt




      Nike of Samothrace


      Augustus Saint-Gaudens,
      a later portrait


      Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber


      Charles Barber’s 1906 pattern
      for the double eagle


      Mint Director Frank Leach


      Henry Hering, Saint-Gaudens assistant who worked with the Mint to produce the 1907 ten and twenty dollar gold coins

      Figure 1

      Figure 2

      Figure 3

      Figure 4
      ROSTER OF MCMVII ULTRA HIGH RELIEF DOUBLE EAGLES

      The coins were produced in three different striking periods, with four different edge treatments (the Plain Edge specimen would have exhibited the Sans Serif Edge Lettering of the other coins from the first striking period, but the reverse die broke while striking this piece and the edge lettering, which was usually impressed during the final blow from the coining press, was never applied). Grades are from the last auction appearance, unless a subsequent certification event is known, or from Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, in the case of the Smithsonian coins. It is likely that some coins have been submitted, or resubmitted, to the grading services since their last auction appearance.



      FIRST STRIKING PERIOD (FEBRUARY 7-14, 1907)

      PR58 NGC. New York Sale (Sotheby's, 12/1992), lot 837; Morrison/Licht Collection (Stack's, 3/2005), lot 1538; Southern Collection; Samuel Berngard / S.S. New York Collection (Stack's, 7/2008), lot 4242; 74th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 11/2009), lot 1983; Philadelphia Signature (Heritage, 8/2012), lot 5434, realized $1,057,500. Edge lettering inverted, discovery coin with Sans Serif style of 1906.

      Impaired Proof, AU (uncertified). United States and Foreign Coins (Sotheby's, 6/1995), lot 485. Edge lettering inverted, Sans Serif style of 1906.

      Grade unknown (uncertified). Possibly Chief Engraver Charles Barber; Captain Andrew North cased set; Stack's exhibited the cased set at the 1956 ANA convention; private collection; Stack's again offered the set in 1980; purchased by NERCG for $1,000,000; purchased by John Dannreuther at the 1981 ANA Convention; Jim Jelinski circa 1983-1984; private collection. Unique specimen with Plain Edge Lettering.

      SECOND STRIKING PERIOD (MARCH-JULY, 1907) AND THIRD STRIKING PERIOD III (DECEMBER 31, 1907)

      PR69 PCGS. ANA Convention Auction (Jim Kelly, 8/1956), lot 1773; Dr. John E. Wilkison; Paramount; A-Mark; Auction '80 (Paramount, 8/1980), lot 977; Ed Trompeter; Trompeter estate; Heritage Auctions private sale in 1999; Phillip Morse Collection (Heritage, 11/2005), lot 6522, realized $2,990,000; Madison Collection; private collector; Baltimore Sale (Stack's Bowers, 6/2012), lot 6522, realized $2,760,000 to Steve Contursi and Don Kagin. Normal Edge Lettering.

      PR68 PCGS. Mint Cabinet in 1907; presented to Augusta Saint- Gaudens in 1908, by order of President Theodore Roosevelt; loaned to the American Numismatic Society on December 1, 1910; exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition; withdrawn by Homer Saint-Gaudens in 1950; private family collection; sold to the present consignor early 1970s. Inverted Edge Lettering. The present coin.

      PR68 PCGS. A-Mark (Steve Markoff); Bowers and Ruddy Galleries; Abe Kosoff; Sam Bloomfield; Sam and Rie Bloomfield Foundation Collection (Sotheby's, 12/1996), lot 60, Dwight Manley; Southern Collection; John Albanese; Midwest collector. Inverted Edge Lettering.

      PR68 PCGS. Albert Holden, circa 1907-1911; Emery May Holden Norweb; R. Henry Norweb, Jr.; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 1/1997), lot 353; Dwight Manley; Ariagno Collection (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 5/1999), lot 885; Tangible Assets, Inc.; Benson Collection, Part III (Goldbergs, 2/2003), lot 2178; Ira and Larry Goldberg; Canadian collector. Normal Edge Lettering.

      1. PR68 PCGS. Possibly Colonel E.H.R. Green; J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 867A; C.T. Weihman; Frank J. Hein; Hein Family Collection, offered at the 2000 ANA convention by sealed bid, unsold; Monex Rare Coins; Ira and Larry Goldberg; West Coast collector; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3258, realized $1,840,000; Simpson Collection. Normal Edge Lettering.

        Gem Brilliant Proof 67 (uncertified). Mathieu, Townsend, et al. Collections (Thomas Elder, 11/1920), lot 1755b; John H. Clapp; Clapp estate; Louis Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; Eliasberg estate; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 1021; Mike Brownlee; Harry Bass, Jr.; Harry Bass, Jr. Research Foundation. Normal Edge Lettering.

        PR67 (uncertified). Mint Cabinet in 1907; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution. Possibly Inverted Edge Lettering. Grade per Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.

        PR66 (uncertified). Theodore Roosevelt, Cornelius Van Schaak Roosevelt; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution in 1962. Normal Edge Lettering. Grade per Garrett and Guth.

        Roman Finish Proof 65+ (uncertified). Chief Engraver Charles Barber; Captain Andrew North cased set; exhibited by Stack's at 1956 ANA Convention; private collection; Stack's again in 1980 FPL; set purchased by NERCG for $1 million; Boston Jubilee (New England Rare Coin Galleries, 7/1980), lot 323; Julian Leidman; Hugh Sconyers; Auction '85 (Superior, 7/1985), lot 983; Ira Einhorn; purchased by Warren Trepp in 1990 for $1.5 million; Kevin Lipton; Blanchard & Co.; private collection. Inverted Edge Lettering.

        Choice Proof 65 (uncertified). Colonel E.H.R. Green; Stack's; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 296; Abe Kosoff; Abe Kosoff Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1985), lot 848. Inverted Edge Lettering.

        PR65 (uncertified). Robert Schermerhorn; Stack's; Josiah K. Lilly; Lilly estate; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution in 1968. Normal Edge Lettering. Grade per Garrett and Guth.

        Gem Roman Finish Proof (uncertified). H. Jeff Browning; Dallas Bank Collection (Sotheby's / Stack's, 10/2001), lot 50; Spectrum Numismatics; John Albanese; private collector. Normal Edge Lettering. Possibly a later appearance of the Ulmer coin in number 17 below.

        Gem Roman Finish Proof (uncertified). Yale University; Empire Coin Company in 1960; Abner Kreisberg; Lichtenfels / Linder Collections (Kreisberg / Schulman, 2/1961), lot 1417; Primary Bartle Collection (Stack's, 10/1985), lot 822. Normal Edge Lettering.

        Roman Finish Proof (uncertified). Theodore Roosevelt; Daniel J. Terra; Theodore Ulmer Collection (Stack's, 5/1974), lot 546; Manfra, Tordella and Brookes. Normal Edge Lettering.

        Grade Unknown (uncertified). Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 6/1979), lot 781; Kagin's. Normal Edge Lettering.

        Grade unknown (uncertified). Chief Engraver Charles Barber; Arthur J. Fecht; American Numismatic Society (on loan since 1945, but did not become the property of the ANS until after the death of Fecht's sister in 1979). Normal Edge Lettering.

        Grade unknown (uncertified). Joseph Mitchelson; Connecticut State Library in 1913. Normal Edge Lettering.


      OTHER APPEARANCES

      A specimen in the possession of Mint Director George E. Roberts in 1907. Sans Serif Edge Lettering, possibly the coin in number 1 or 2 above.

      A specimen in the possession of former Mint Director Robert Preston in 1907. Sans Serif Edge Lettering, possibly the coin in number 1 or 2 above.

      A coin examined by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and returned to President Roosevelt on March 13, 1907. Sans Serif Edge Lettering, possibly the coin in number 1 or 2 above.

      A specimen in the possession of Mint Director Frank Leach in December 1907.

      A specimen in the possession of Secretary of the Treasury George Courtelyou in December 1907.

      Jerome Kern Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 626.

      According to F.C.C. Boyd's inventory of his collection, Colonel E.H.R. Green owned at least two more specimens, aside from the coins specifically attributed to him above.

      According to the inventory of his collection, taken in late 1916, Chief Engraver Charles Barber owned another five specimens in addition to the three coins specifically attributed to him above.

      PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

      The PR68 grade tells what is essential to know about this remarkable piece: It is nearly perfectly preserved. The minting process differed for Ultra High Relief twenties. The coins were struck seven times with a hydraulic press. In between strikings the planchets were heated to soften the metal, cooled in a mild solution of nitric acid (to reduce surface oxidation), and then struck again. The result of the annealing process was to bring a thin layer of almost pure gold to the top of each side of the coin. This layer of gold gives Ultra High Reliefs a brightness not encountered on other gold coins. That vibrancy is readily apparent on this piece. The fields display the fine, swirling die polishing lines seen on all Ultras as well as regular High Relief twenties. There are no contact marks on either side that we can see. Of course, the most readily identifiable marker are the ASG initials on the rim, located at 4 o'clock as one views the coin face-up. This is a spectacular example of the most visually impressive coin ever produced by any nation.



      We would like to express our appreciation to the following people (in alphabetical order), who truly made this project a collaborative effort: Roger Burdette, John Dannreuther, Ellen Feingold, Jeff Garrett, Ron Guth, David Hill, Saul Teichman, and Ute Wartenberg.
    (Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 26EX, PCGS# 9131)

    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, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
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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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    Only 7 days left to consign to the 2019 December 5 - 8 US Coins Signature Auction - Dallas!

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