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    Near-Gem 1907 Wire Rim Ten
    Bold Version of Saint-Gaudens' Artistic Vision

    1907 $10 Wire Rim MS64 NGC. The 1907 Wire Rim tens are technically patterns (Judd-1901) yet are collected alongside the regular-issue coins in the series. The coins were struck in an amount of roughly 500 pieces (some sources number 472). When one stops to consider the 1907 "Wire Rim" tens versus the MCMVII "High Relief" twenties, the nomenclature of the former feels a bit ironic. Both represent the issues that are most faithful to the original Saint-Gaudens design concept, translated into coins that were still of high relief and that required special care for striking -- coins that would never have been struck without the "bully pulpit" of President Theodore Roosevelt and the superb skill of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

    These were never coins that could be produced on high-speed production presses, as Mint Engraver Charles Barber ceaselessly pointed out. But to call the 1907 "Wire Rims" such is to overemphasize what is, in reality, a rather minor feature. In fact, most of the MCMVII High Reliefs also feature a wire rim, and they are called as such to distinguish them from the Flat Rim pieces -- yet again, that terminology somewhat misses the point.

    Perhaps the 12,367 "High Relief" twenties and the 1907 "Wire Rim" tens should be given an entirely new terminology, one that more accurately encapsulates their departure from the pedestrian, the "atrocious hideousness" that Barber typified. Perhaps the coins should be called "Bold Design" (an acknowledgment not only of their high relief, but the innovative, larger-than-life freshness of their designs).

    Even afterward, Charles Barber won the upper hand only through Saint-Gaudens' death in August 1907. Collectors must grudgingly owe Barber a debt of thanks, adapting the respective designs to lower reliefs suited for high-speed Mint production while not entirely enervating their original artistic genius.

    Fortunately, collectors who wish to enjoy the original Saint-Gaudens concept as conceived for circulation, untempered by Barber's penchant for artistic mediocrity, have the 1907 "Wire Rim" tens and the "High Relief" twenties to pursue.

    This near-Gem example of the Wire Rim ten is a case in point. Any collector interested in bidding should read President Roosevelt's spirited defense of the feathered headdress on Liberty that he made at a memorial service for Saint-Gaudens, as quoted in the first volume of Roger Burdette's Renaissance work, pages 151-2. The bold strike brings out the fresh design to stark advantage, and the obverse shows only the most minor ticks, mostly on the lower neck and at the rim under the date. The reverse shows marks that are grade-defining but not particularly overt, on the eagle's midsection and lower feathers. The eye appeal is uniformly excellent. Census: 74 in 64 (1 in 64+), 65 finer (2/13).
    From The Fairfax Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 268B, PCGS# 8850)

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    24th-28th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
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    The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
    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. 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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