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Remarkable Gem 1908-S Saint-Gaudens Eagle, MS66 NGC

1908-S $10 MS66 NGC. The Congressional mandate of 1908 that returned the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to the ten dollar gold piece provided an excuse for Charles E. Barber to once again vent his frustrations over the Mint's adoption of an outsider's superior design. In actuality, Barber's influence over the Indian Head eagle's motif predates Congress' assertion a year. The initial relief of Saint-Gaudens' design, like that of his double eagle, was too bold for its own good. While the breathtaking features stand out in unparalleled beauty on the early high relief patterns of 1907, the accompanying die wastage and production time would never suffice for regular issue coinage. Accordingly, the first 239,406 business strikes to emerge from the Philadelphia Mint in 1907 incorporated Barber's crude modifications. In addition to lowering the relief, the Chief Engraver omitted the triangular periods that once delineated E PLURIBUS UNUM, redesigned the branch, reshaped several of the letters in the legends, strengthened the feathers in the headdress, and reworked some of Liberty's hair curls. In 1908, in addition to adding the motto in the reverse field before the eagle, Barber continued to tinker with minor design elements in a vain effort to improve the striking quality of the denomination. While these inconspicuous alterations did strengthen certain key features, they failed to achieve the Chief Engraver's original goal, and poor impressions would continue to be the norm until the denomination's demise in 1933.
The present Gem possesses all of the qualities that never fail to excite eager bidders. It is the first S-mint installment in this popular series and among the first With Motto issues. While the eagle's shoulder and talon, as well as Liberty's highest hair curls, exhibit characteristic incompleteness of definition, the balance of this coin is smartly impressed and quite crisply defined for the series. Although many of the 59,850 pieces that the west coast branch mint delivered in 1908 saw circulation, this gorgeous specimen was delicately preserved over the past ten decades. The frosty, orange-gold surfaces are smooth, although, for accuracy, we mention a somewhat distracting abrasion in the left obverse field that joins the bottom of star 1 to the tip of Liberty's nose. An important piece, we anticipate stiff competition for this specimen from the numerous gold specialists who will accept only the best for their prized collections. Population: 5 in 66, 2 finer (4/04). (#8861) (Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28GL, PCGS# 8861)

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Auction Dates
June, 2004
3rd-5th Thursday-Saturday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 199

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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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