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    1910 Indian Quarter Eagle, PR67+
    Only One Finer Certified

    1910 $2 1/2 PR67+ NGC. CAC. Because the coarse-grained matte proofs of 1907-1908 proved so unpopular with collectors, the Mint decided to try the "Roman Gold" finish on proofs in 1909 and 1910. The proofing process was the same used on the matte proofs, but the coins were not sandblasted after striking. Unfortunately, although the resulting coins were brighter and more vibrant than the unpopular matte proofs, the public still found them wanting in comparison with the brilliant proofs of earlier years. The innovative "Roman Gold" finish was abandoned after 1910.

    Mint records indicate a record-high mintage of 682 proof quarter eagles was accomplished in 1910, an anomaly that is hard to explain, given the number of coins surviving today. NGC and PCGS have combined to certify only 169 examples in all grades, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (3/15). The 1910 proof Indian quarter eagle was already being called "scarce" when B. Max Mehl sold an example in lot 160 of the Charles W. Cowell Collection in November of 1911, hardly an appropriate evaluation for a proof coin of which 682 pieces were struck the year before. Several theories have been proposed over the years to account for the disproportionate number of pieces reportedly struck versus number of survivors.

    Walter Breen speculated that the mintage figure was some kind of clerical error, with the Mint striking an unknown number of business-strike quarter eagles at the same time that a smaller number of proofs were struck (say 400 business-strikes and 282 proofs) but mistakenly reporting that all the coins were proofs. Breen believed that this kind of mistake might go unnoticed because the planchet count and bullion accounts would not be out of balance.

    David Akers suggested a second possibility: that the mintage figures were accurate, but about two thirds of the proof coins that were struck were never distributed. The small surviving population is indicative of an initial distribution of about 200 coins. In this scenario, the Mint struck a large number of proofs in an overly optimistic anticipation of increased collector demand. Most of the coins remained unsold, and were melted after the end of the year.

    Alternatively, Roger Burdette points out that business-strike quarter eagles were not produced until late in the year, making proofs the only option for collectors seeking to update their collections. This might have led to an increased demand for proofs, fueled by speculation that no regular-issue coins would be struck, making the 1910 quarter eagle scarce as a date. An unprecedented number of proofs may have been ordered by collectors and delivered by the Mint in 1910, but the expected shortage of quarter eagles never materialized because 492,000 business-strikes were coined in the last month of the year. Once this became apparent, the speculator's simply spent the proof quarter eagles, whose appearance was very similar to regular-issue coins, except for their square rims and sharper strike. After just a short time in circulation, the proofs became indistinguishable from circulation strikes. A large number of impaired proofs may be masquerading as business-strikes in recent population data, explaining the apparent inconsistency.

    Gold proofs commanded minimal premiums when offered in the early 20th century but the situation is much different today. The spectacular PR67 NGC coin in the Tacasyl Collection (Bonhams, 9/2013), formerly the Dr. Robert Loewinger coin, realized a record price of $87,750.

    The present coin is a high-end Superb Gem with razor-sharp definition on all design elements and strong "Roman" finish luster throughout. The impeccably preserved orange-gold surfaces show a few highlights of green and red, with tremendous eye appeal. This coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set. Census: 13 in 67 (1 in 67+, 3 in 67 ), 1 finer (3/15).
    From The Virginia Cabinet.(Registry values: N7079)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 289J, PCGS# 7959)

    Weight: 4.18 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Virginia Cabinet ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 973

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