Superb Gem Matte Proof 1914 Indian Eagle
1914 $10 PR67 NGC. Ex: Norweb. This piece was acquired later
than some other Indian eagle proofs in the Norweb Collection. In
the Bowers and Merena sale of the Norweb Collection, Part II, there
is a 1910 proof eagle with the following brief description:
From the Legendary Norweb Family Collection
"1910 Gem Satin Proof-65. A superb specimen which undoubtedly was purchased directly from the Mint at the time of issue by Albert F. Holden. This coin displays the 'Satin' or 'Roman' finish as also used in 1909."
Albert Fairchild Holden (1866-1913) was one of the nine children born to Liberty Emery Holden (1833-1913) and his wife, Delia Elizabeth Buckley (1838-1932). Liberty Emery Holden was admitted to the Cleveland Bar in 1863 but was an entrepreneur at heart, with interests in hotel building and ownership, mining, politics, and newspaper publishing. He became owner of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and was an important patron of the arts. He supported "Free Silver" advocate William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential campaign that featured Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech. It is believed that by the 1890s he possessed a significant rare coin collection.
Liberty's son, Albert, was a Harvard graduate who specialized in mine management and engineering, taking care of his father's extensive mining properties in the Western United States. He pursued mineralogy as a hobby, donating his specimens to Harvard along with a half-million dollars for their maintenance. Albert joined the ANA in 1909 and participated in such landmark sales as the Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907) and the Zabriskie Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1909). Albert ordered proof coins directly from the Philadelphia Mint from about 1900 through 1912 and was among the few collectors of the day to collect branch mint coins. He unfortunately died due to cancer shortly before his father, in 1913.
Albert's daughter, Emery May Holden Norweb (1896-1984), became a numismatist when still a child and recorded die varieties and coin pedigrees in her father's notebook by age 12. She joined the ANA at age 18 in 1914 and was a member until her death in 1984. She married R. Henry Norweb, Sr. (1895-1983) in 1917 and added to the family collection with purchases from Thomas Elder, B. Max Mehl, J.C. Morgenthau, Wayte Raymond, and John J. Ford, Jr. Together with her husband, who became a U.S. ambassador, she "patiently acquired the 'finest of the fine' and the 'rarest of the rare' from many properties offered over a long span of time," according to the Norweb Collection catalog.
Ambassador Henry Norweb, Sr. and Emery Holden Norweb's son, R. Henry Norweb, Jr. (1918-1995), was born in a bomb shelter in Paris the year after they married, where his father was serving in the American Embassy. He continued the family passion for numismatics to a fourth generation, primarily focusing on Brazilian coins. He served as president of the ANS from 1990 through 1994.
The present Superb Gem proof was acquired from one Dan Brown, about whom we have been unable to uncover cogent information. But this piece, like all of the coins that resided for decades in the vast Norweb Collection holdings, has the tantalizing potential of having been handled by several members of one of America's foremost collecting families. The catalog description in the Norweb catalog for this 1914 eagle borders on laconic:
"1914 Matte Proof 65. One of the very finest known of this extreme rarity.
"The lowest mintage among Proof Indian Head eagles was registered for 1914, at which time just 50 were coined. By this point, the demand from collectors had diminished sharply, and apparently the Mint was tired of producing coins just to have them remain unsold on the shelf or recycled in the melting pot. Probably no more than 15 to 20 exist today."
We would add that this piece has completely smooth, untroubled khaki-gold color, with absolutely no trace of contact or disturbed luster. For pedigree purposes, we mention a tiny fleck of darker color in the obverse field out from Liberty's chin, and a tiny indent, clearly of Mint origin, on the lower neck above the 9 in the date. The population data are hopelessly unreliable and overflowing with duplications; nonetheless, this piece is one of six listed in PR67 at NGC, and one PR68 is listed finer (7/10).
Ex: Dan Brown (8/22/1953); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/1988), lot 2319, Matte Proof 65, which brought $27,500.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26YE, PCGS# 8896)
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