1906-D Special Strike Double Eagle, SP66
    Fourth Example of Six Struck
    Presentation Piece to Colorado Pioneer Isaac Gotthelf

    1906-D $20 Special Strike SP66 PCGS. CAC. Fourth 1906-D Double Eagle Struck in Denver
    This branch mint proof 1906-D Liberty Head double eagle certified SP66 by PCGS is the fourth example of six pieces struck to mark the official opening of the Denver Mint on April 2, 1906. This coin was presented to Colorado early pioneer Isaac Gotthelf (1844-1910) in April 1906 a few days after its striking; documentation attesting to the coin's creation and presentation is included with the lot. This is a coin of immense historical importance, as well as an aesthetically beautiful example of the early-20th century proof Liberty Head gold coinage. And seldom does a coin of such vintage appear with original documentation that places its creation exactly as to time and circumstances as well as place, despite the fact that this marvelous coin is now 107 years old.

    Generous, gleaming luster flows from both sides of this orange-gold specimen, a coin that was obviously struck with great care and well preserved by generations of collectors. There is just the slightest hint of contrast between the lightly frosted devices and the fully reflective fields. For pedigree purposes we note a tiny tick in the right obverse field, directly downward from Liberty's hairbun. A small indent appears at the extreme reverse, at the edge of a denticle between DO(LLARS). The strike is razor-sharp throughout. Overall, a coin of immense quality and incredible historic importance.

    Presentation Coin to Isaac Gotthelf (1844-1910)
    Isaac Gotthelf emigrated from Germany and arrived in Colorado in 1866, forming the town of Saguache and being elected to the Colorado Legislature in 1876, the year that the Colorado Territory achieved statehood. Gotthelf was reelected in 1878. He married Florence M. Lot in 1879, niece of Denver Mint superintendent Herman Silver. Gotthelf made his fortune as a merchant and cattle rancher, and was the founder and president of the Saguache National Bank. He was a member of the firm of Gotthelf and (Charles) Tarbell. The Tarbell, Gotthelf, and Moffat families were all interconnected throughout the commerce of Denver in the banking, legal, real estate, and railroad industries of the day.

    Clark, Gruber and the Denver Mint
    The Denver Mint was formally opened in 1906, but its history dates back much further to the late 1850s-1860s, when gold was discovered in Colorado along the Platte River as early as 1852. The Denver Mint's forebears were the Territorial assayers and coiners Clark, Gruber and Co. Brothers Austin Clark and Milton Clark went from equipping gold miners and assaying gold dust to making "Pike's Peak Gold" in Denver, Colorado Territory, 1860, in partnership with Emanuel Gruber. Clark, Gruber were well-respected coiners of the era, making gold coins from their facilities at 16th and Market streets that were actually a tad overweight compared to the Federal standard, a refreshing change from some of the debacles of the California Gold Rush coiners. Their 1860-dated quarter eagles and half eagles imitated the Federal style, while their ten and twenty dollar pieces of that year had the fantastic "volcano" motif intended to represent Pike's Peak. By 1861 all of the four gold denominations resembled the Federal coinage. In 1862 the United States actually purchased the property of Clark, Gruber, proposing a new branch mint for gold coinage. However, to the chagrin of the local populace, the United States Mint at Denver opened in September 1863 -- as an assaying operation only.

    The Denver Mint thus existed for some four decades before it ever made its first Federal coins. The generally accepted reasons were the existence of the San Francisco Mint, opened in 1854, and the Carson City Mint, which struck coins from 1870 to 1893; the two together were believed sufficient for the coinage needs of the far West. A new Denver Mint facility was begun on West Colfax Street in 1897, and the assaying operations were transferred there in 1904. Herman Silver was listed variously in records as Mint director, assayer, and superintendent.

    Contemporary Documentation of the Present Specimen
    Accompanying the coin is an original letter dated April 10, 1906, testifying to the coin's authenticity as the fourth example struck, addressed to the Hon. Isaac Gotthelf and signed by two Denver Mint officials. The full text of the letter reads:


    April 10, 1906.

    Hon. Isaac Gotthelf
    2601 Champa St.,
    Denver, Colorado.

    My Dear Mr. Gotthelf:-

    I take pleasure in handing you herewith the fourth $20 gold piece stamped at the United States Mint at Denver, Colorado on Monday, April 2, 1906. You will notice by the Denver Republican of April 3rd., 1906, that the Honorable David H. Moffat fed into the press six double eagle blanks, from which were made $20 gold pieces, he receiving the first one, my brother Charles Tarbell the second one, Mr. F.G. Moffatt the 3rd., and I am saving for my brother-in-law Mr. W.L. Hartman of Pueblo the 5th.

    With kindest regards, I am,

    Yours very truly,

    (signed) Harry Tarbell / Coiner

    I hereby certify that the above double eagle mentioned was the fourth $20 gold piece struck at the United States Mint at Denver, Colorado, on April 2, 1906.

    (signed) Paul R. Hempel / Foreman Coining Room."

    Ex: Isaac Gotthelf, Colorado pioneer and banker, husband of Florence Lot Gotthelf, niece of Herman Silver, Denver Mint superintendent, coin struck on April 2, 1906; Gotthelf family; Dan Brown (about 1950); Paul Jackson, Las Palmas Coin Shop (about 1963); Kagin's (12/30/1963), lot 363 (unsold?); Jackson to Western pioneer Mr. Marchant (about 1966); R.E. Wallace (1988); 72nd Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2007), lot 4562, with letter and other ephemera including a 1905 so-called dollar, HK-876, and four award plaques. The lot brought $172,500. The present offering includes ONLY the SP66 PCGS 1906-D coin itself and the Denver Mint certification letter (quoted above) from 1906. The so-called dollar and other ephemera that were in the 2007 Stack's offering are NOT included.

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

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