Lovely Gem Proof MCMVII Wire Rim High Relief1907 $20 High Relief PR65 NGC. A recent item by Carl Honore in E-sylum, the electronic publication of the Numismatic Bibliomania Society, prompted interesting augmentations and discussions in the subsequent issue (volume 10, number 37, Sept. 16, 2007) concerning high relief coins. Far from being the nation's first high relief coinage, the Saint-Gaudens High Relief double eagles were an artistic reawakening of a tried-but-untrue numismatic production method.
John Dannreuther writes: "Our first high relief coinage was for our most diminutive gold coin--the gold dollar.
"In 1849, [designer James B.] Longacre used concave fields (convex dies) for the obverse for the first gold dollars (the reverse dies were normal, flat field types). (The 1849 gold dollar is also the first US regular issue coin to have the date in the master die.) The original high relief, concave fields 1849 gold dollars (the No 'L' and the first 'L' variety had concave fields) were abandoned because of reverse die breakage. The stress on the reverse (anvil) dies required a change to flat fields for both sides. The double eagle prepared later in the year was also first prepared with slightly concave obverse fields, which were changed for the 1850 regular issue. The complaint that the double eagle would not stack was false, but the lesson Longacre learned with the breaking of the reverse dies for the gold dollars undoubtedly resulted in his changing the double eagle dies."
Dannreuther goes on to point out that, after the production of the High Relief double eagles at the insistence of President Theodore Roosevelt, both the "Mercury" dime and Walking Liberty half dollar also employed slightly concave fields, although he consider those types not to be truly high relief.
The characteristics of the proof Saint-Gaudens High Reliefs are well documented and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that the sharpness of the berries, Liberty's toes, the eagle's rear feather tips, and many other details confirm this lovely piece's status as a proof striking. The beautiful antique-gold surfaces assume deeper hues of amber-gold on the device highpoints.
(NGC ID# BYCE, PCGS# 9132)
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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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