The O'Neal-Duckor 1908-S Eagle, MS681908-S $10 MS68 PCGS. Ex: O'Neal/Duckor. The main attraction for collectors of the 1908-S eagle is the low mintage of only 59,850 pieces. Like its 1908-D Motto counterpart, the 1908-S is also available in a wide range of grade choices. In the process of cataloging the Dr. Thaine Price collection (May 19, 1998), David Akers writes:
"... the 1908-S Indian Head Eagle has long been considered one of the rarities of the series. It is apparent that most of the mintage went into circulation since circulated specimens are the most commonly seen examples of the issue. Mint State pieces, including some in Very Choice to Gem condition, are available with more regularity than some other less highly regarded issues of the series, but it is still correct to regard the 1908-S as rare in Gem condition since at most 20-25 such examples exist."
The key to understanding the availability of the 1908-S in high grades lies in a brief passage from Walter Breen's 1988 Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins: "Uncs are from 2 small hoards, one (of at least 20) found in the 1940s, the other (fewer, choice) from Europe in the 1970s." Apparently the coins in these hoards were of very high quality and constitute most of the high grade coins that are known today.
PCGS and NGC have, to date, certified about 300 1908-S ten dollar coins in Mint State grades. Slightly more than 20 specimens rate MS65, and 15 examples are classified as Premium Gems. The two services have seen eleven MS67s, five MS68s, and a single MS69.
The extraordinary surfaces of most 1908-S tens is the second reason that this issue is a collector favorite. David Akers points out in his 1988 reference on 20th century gold: "...the 1908-S eagle comes with two very different, distinctive finishes. One is frosty and very finely granular, and on these specimens the luster is very good but not outstanding. The other finish (much more rare) is extremely satiny, and with these examples the luster is always exceptionally radiant." With such a selection of finishes, combined with a general lack of large abrasions on most 1908-S eagles, it is no wonder this issue is so popular with collectors.
This particular MS68 coin is of the second variety, i.e., highly satiny with radiant surfaces that give off a beautiful peach-gold color. An well executed strike that imparts strong definition to the design features complements these attributes, further enhancing the coin's overall eye appeal. The only surface blemishes that serve to distinguish this coin from others are a tiny alloy speck in the upper left obverse field, a couple of minuscule nicks on the right (facing) wing of the eagle, and a small mark to the left of the U in UNITED.
For an issue that is known for its singular eye appeal, this is one of the finest 1908-S ten dollar examples known. As such, it presents the advanced gold collector with a seldom-offered opportunity. Population: 3 in 68, 0 finer (6/09).
Ex: Dr. Steven L. Duckor Collection (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 3885; The Jim O'Neal Collection of Saint-Gaudens Eagles (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 3507.
From The Bay State Collection, Part Two.(Registry values: N1) (NGC ID# 28GL, PCGS# 8861)
View all of [The Bay State Collection, Part Two ]
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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.
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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