Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Probably Unique 1909 Matte Finish Half Eagle, PR67

    1909 $5 PR67 NGC. This auction contains three proof gold coins that should not be. A 1909 half eagle, a 1910 quarter eagle, and a 1910 half eagle--all with a matte finish, not the traditional Roman gold finish. These coins are all experimental in nature, and undoubtedly trace their pedigree to someone (now unknown) who was close to the production of these coins. Chief Engraver Charles Barber's antagonism toward outside designers is well known and well documented. And yet, he recognized the inherent artistic worth of these outsiders' coins. His estate contained at least six High Reliefs. It is likewise logical that Barber would have "collected" experimental strikings of the other coins struck during the later years in his tenure at the mint.
    The real story of this coin is not the story of Charles Barber (or whomever was the original source), but rather it is the story of Gaston DiBello, the collector who had a penchant for these and other special strikings and spent the time tracking them down. DiBello led an interesting life. He served in the Navy in World War I, was president of DiBello Motors in Buffalo, president of the Rochester Numismatic Society in 1952, attended the Farouk Sale in 1954, received the Howland Wood Award in 1962, and died of a heart attack at the FUN show in 1967. His U.S. coins were sold by Stack's in May 1970 and included several experimental finishes on coins from the American Renaissance period. These special coins include: 1909 matte proof half eagle, 1907 Roman Finish eagle, 1907 matte proof eagle, 1909 matte proof eagle, and proof MCMVII double eagle.
    In their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins published earlier this year, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth wrote:

    "A single matte Proof is known of this date; it was struck in the same style as the 1908 matte proof issue. Its existence was first reported in Stack's DiBello Sale; later it realized $17,000 in Stack's session of Auction '81, lot 1868. The coin was recently certified by NGC as PF-67. There was considerable experimentation with Proof finishes for the 1908 to 1915 half eagles. Public reaction to the matte and Roman surfaces was lukewarm at best; the brilliant Proofs of years past were much more preferred."

    Earlier, Walter Breen recorded the DiBello coin as the only known matte proof of this issue. When they cataloged the DiBello Sale in May 1970, and later when this piece reappeared in Auction '81, Stack's labeled the 1909 matte proof half eagle as unique. In 1981, they reprinted part of their 1970 description, which we quote: "Well struck, with the matte proof finish found on the 1908 and 1911 through 1915 issues. The 1909 and 1910 are known only in the more brilliant Roman finish. This is the first example of this date in the dull matte proof finish we have encountered or could find record of. Mr. DiBello acquired a group of unusual proofs of the St. Gaudens era and the others are described under the Eagle and Double Eagle listings further on in this [Stack's, May 1970] catalog. This coin is UNIQUE and should attract considerable interest by those who try to possess the rare and unusual."
    In 1909, Mint records show that 78 proofs were coined. Garrett and Guth speculated that 77 of those pieces are the Roman Finish proofs, and just one coin was minted with this matte finish. This is definitely the DiBello-Trompeter specimen, as seen by a faint, vertical flare of shininess just above star 2. Given the similarities of this piece to the earlier 1908 proof half eagles, we might speculate that the 1909 matte proof half eagles were the first pieces struck that year.
    This piece is essentially flawless, as one would expect from the Superb grade. The coin has rich orange-gold coloration and the surfaces are reminiscent of the deeper, coarser-grain finish seen on 1908 proofs.
    Ex: Gaston DiBello, Part II (Stack's, 5/70), lot 1004; Auction '81 (Stack's session, 7/81), lot1868; Trompeter Collection, sold by private treaty, 1998; Pre-Long Beach Auction (Goldberg's, 2/06), lot 1216; plated on page 309 of the Garrett-Guth Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins.(Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (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
    November, 2006
    29th-30th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,008

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    15% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item
    Coming soon:

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Nature & Science
    Opens about 10/20/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/21/2020

    Manuscripts
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 10/22/2020

    Fine & Rare Wine
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 10/26/2020

    Silver
    Opens about 10/27/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/28/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/29/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Ethnographic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Space
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Movie Posters
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 10/22/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/06/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 10/25/2020

    Currency
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/10/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/11/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/04/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Luxury Accessories
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Arms & Armor
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 11/08/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/07/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/09/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/26/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Sports Collectibles
    Opens about 11/19/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/20/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/23/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Rare Books
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 34 days left to consign to the 2021 January 6 - 10 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando FUN!

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for your support and counsel during the process and I continue to be impressed by the skill and expertise of the Heritage Auction staff, as well as the clever web site.
    Bruce S.,
    Maplewood, NJ
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search