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    1909 Half Eagle, PR66
    Rare in Any Grade as a Proof

    1909 $5 PR66 NGC. Following in the footsteps of the late Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Bela Lyon Pratt, by request from Theodore Roosevelt, created new designs for the quarter eagle and half eagle denominations, continuing the over-hall of the United States' coin designs that would later be known as the Renaissance of American Coinage. Inspired by certain Greek coins, Pratt prepared designs with the relief elements sunken into the surface of the coin, rather than brought up on it. This design type is correctly referred to as "sunken relief," as the devices are not truly incuse as many have resorted to describing them, and this was the first use of this format on a United States coin.

    Every new coin design has its critics, however, and Pratt's sunken relief designs had a long list of perceived flaws, including, among others, the tendency to collect dirt, an inability to stack properly, and ease of counterfeiting. None of these, however, proved to be legitimate concerns, and the design remained in production until the denomination's demise in 1929.

    Proof half eagles of this type were about as well-received by collectors as the business strikes were by the public. Beginning in 1908, the Mint began experimenting with two different finishes for its proof coinage; the first, known as a sandblast or "matte" finish, produced a rather dull and granular surface texture, while the second, commonly known as a satin or "Roman Gold" finish featured a distinctly satiny appearance not all that dissimilar from circulation strikes. Neither proved popular among collectors, with the result that mintages were low, and Garrett and Guth write that today "All are extremely valuable, representing some of the most desirable of all U.S. issues."

    The 1909 proof was one of just two Indian have eagles marketed to collectors with the Roman finish (this finish was also used in 1910); Mint records report a mintage of 78 coins, though Fuljenz estimates no more than 30 or so exist today, with examples grading finer than PR65 being exceedingly rare. This PR66 coin is just such a piece, with rich honey-gold luster and seemingly flawless surfaces. The design elements exhibit a degree of sharpness seen only on proofs, beautifully portraying Pratt's grand design, and giving this coin a caliber of eye appeal that is virtually unknown on a business strike. Census: 6 in 66, 12 finer (7/14).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 25ZS, PCGS# 8540)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2014
    5th-9th Tuesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 680

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