Legendary 1907 Rolled Edge Eagle, PR67
1907 $10 Satin PR67 NGC. One of five gold coins in the
present sale that belonged to Mint Director Frank A. Leach, this
satin finish proof 1907 With Periods Rolled Edge eagle is a
monumental coin that ranks among the most important individual
specimens in 20th century American numismatics. We have no
hesitation calling the Leach specimen the single finest example of
the 1907 Rolled Edge ten that is known today.
The Frank A. Leach Specimen
The Single Finest Example
Possibly a Trial Piece
Population and Proofs
It is thought that just 50 of the 1907 Rolled Edge eagles were preserved for museums, numismatists, and those associated with the design. Past estimates of the rarity of these coins have varied widely. Some older catalogs suggest that only about 10 examples still exist. Others have suggested that two or three dozen survive. Still other catalogers, such as David Akers, place the population at 40 to 45 coins. The present cataloger made an attempt to create a complete roster of surviving examples through examination of old catalogs. At the point of identifying 27 distinct specimens, there were still 50 photographic auction appearances to review, and the project was dropped as an impossibility. It appears that nearly every one of the original 50 coins still exist, but the Leach specimen is in a class of its own, clearly the single finest surviving example available to collectors today.
Over the years, a few especially sharp examples have been labeled as proofs, but with only one other exception, none of them have a confirmed proof status. When Michael Fuljenz authored Indian Gold Coins of the 20th Century, he wrote that a single proof example is known, suggesting that "it was likely a trial piece." That piece is the PR66 NGC specimen that was offered in the Bowers and Merena Rarities sale in July 2002. The present specimen was unknown to Fuljenz when his reference was published last year, and is a finer specimen.
Another example, appearing in the 1972 ANA sale with documentation that it was the first 1907 Rolled Edge eagle struck, was described as a proof and sold to Harry W. Bass, Jr. The Bass specimen was later lost in an airport incident that Dave Bowers described in the July 2002 Rarities catalog. The illustration in the 1972 ANA catalog is clearly a Rolled Edge coin, although the description calls it a Wire Edge piece. Until such time as the 1972 ANA-Bass coin is relocated, its status as a possible proof is unknown.
Additional specimens described as proofs include the Eliasberg coin that was later described as MS65, and the Bell and Flanagan coins, both appearing at auction in 1944, with the same photo used in both catalogs. The Bell and Flanagan coin (or coins) is no longer traced since the photography and printing quality from 1944 makes plate matching a near-impossibility.
Documented Trial Pieces
Numismatic researcher Roger W. Burdette has uncovered considerable information regarding Mint practices and policies in his Renaissance of American Coinage trilogy. Digging through the National Archives for many years, Burdette discovered immense files of previously unexamined material. His three-volume series covers the years from 1905 to 1921, beginning at the suggestion of President Roosevelt that the national coinage required update, and ending with introduction of the Peace dollars in the 1921.
Burdette documents the entire story of the Rolled Edge coins, along with all other 1907 eagles and double eagles. His analysis of edge devices indicates that both patterns and production pieces exist. Irregular edge stars coins are considered patterns, and normal edge stars coins are production pieces. The pattern strikes were made on the Mint's medal press, and the only known examples are in the Smithsonian Institution. Later, 31,500 examples were minted on the regular coinage presses, with all but 50 pieces melted. The collar containing 46 stars used for the pieces struck on the medal press is different from the collar used for the regular production pieces, and the edge is the key to identification.
The Leach Specimen
The actual edge of the Leach specimen has heavy finishing lines, similar to die polish lines that are normally seen on the obverse and reverse. The specific pattern of those finishing lines is the key to attribution of pattern strikes on the medal press versus regular strikes on the coining press. This example has heavy finishing lines on the edge, and they may match those found on the Smithsonian pattern pieces. If the Leach specimen has the pattern edge device, it is the only existing pattern available to private collectors, and will be one of the most monumental discoveries in recent numismatic history.
This 1907 Rolled Edge eagle certified PR67 Satin by NGC is, in a word, astounding. Every aspect of the coin makes a statement that it is something special, unlike any others of its kind. With just four owners since it was first issued, it has escaped the normal handling that most others witnessed. The surfaces are light yellow with brilliant, satiny luster and heavy die polishing lines on both sides, the latter separating this piece from all others. The surfaces are, for all practical purposes, absolutely mark-free. Only slight grazing of the luster is visible in the left reverse field.
The characteristic that clearly sets this piece apart from all others is the strike. The typical example has a poor strike. David Akers wrote in his 1988 Handbook: "The strike on a typical Rolled Edge is rather weak, particularly at Miss Liberty's ear and on the eagle's wing and trailing leg and claw." However, the Leach specimen is clearly special. Every detail is bold, including the period following LIBERTY on the headband--a feature that few even know is part of the design because it is never visible. Every individual feather in the eagle is visible, even on the highest part of the left wing (the point of highest relief).
Ex: Frank Aleamon Leach; Abraham Powell Leach; Florence Gertrude Leach; Col. George Monroe.
From The Colonel George M. Monroe Collection.
See lots 5221, 5222, 5223, and 5305 for additional gold coins with the Leach provenance. (NGC ID# 28HD, PCGS# 8898)
View all of [The Colonel George M. Monroe Collection ]
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Revised Edition by James L. Halperin, Mark R. Borckardt, Mark Van Winkle, Jon Amato, and Gregory J. Rohan, with special contributor David W. Akers
The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens is an issue-by-issue examination of these two artistically inspired series of gold coins.
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