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    Enchanting 1907 High Relief Double Eagle--Rare Satin Proof Striking

    1907 $20 High Relief PR 66 NGC. First sworn in as president following the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, and firmly established in the White House after the election of 1904, Theodore Roosevelt at last found himself in a position from which to fulfill his longtime dream of coinage redesign. His chosen weapon in the struggle against the banality that characterized the gold denominations was the talent of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. After designing Roosevelt's official inaugural medal, Saint-Gaudens was empowered to create designs for the eagle and double eagle. Roosevelt selected the standing representation of Liberty and a majestic flying eagle for the larger denomination, and 24 proof specimens were produced in February and March of 1907. These are the Ultra High Relief patterns that best display the awesome beauty of St. Gaudens' double eagle. Following the designer's death on August 3, his pupil Henry Hering corroborated with Mint employees to produce a second set of master dies and hubs with the design in slightly lower relief. Six pairs of working dies were made from these hubs and, beginning November 18, 1907, 11,250 High Relief Saint-Gaudens double eagles were produced.
    Two pairs of these High Relief dies also struck an unknown number of satin finish proofs for presentation purposes. These impressive coins were produced on the Philadelphia Mint's medal press, each piece requiring six or seven blows from the dies as opposed to five for the business strikes. Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber asserted that only five proof High Relief double eagles were produced, but Breen (1977, 1988) proved that Barber alone owned six specimens. In his book A Handbook of 20th Century United States Gold Coins: 1907-1933, Akers placed the mintage figure of this proof issue between 20 and 25 coins. Neither author ventures an estimate on the number of pieces extant.
    Anyone who views this coin will agree that it is one of the most spectacular representatives of the Saint-Gaudens double eagle. Unlike business strikes, this coin displays broad, flat borders with razor sharp inner and outer edges. In addition, the berries on the olive branch are fully rounded, all pillars in the Capitol building are separated, and the eagle's tail feathers are crisp down to the ends. There are numerous swirling and horizontal striae in the fields, evidence that the dies were extensively polished before striking. As stated above, two pairs of dies were used to produce the High Relief proofs, and each pair was mated with a different collar. In as much as the present specimen does not display a small spine from the left edge of the L in LIBERTY, it was most likely struck with the collar that shows the bases of the M in UNUM uneven. (Of course, the NGC holder precludes confirmation of this assertion.) Breen calls this die variety 2-D, Collar II. There are no mentionable contact marks or hairlines and both sides exhibit vivid orange-gold coloration. A trio of infinitesimal alloy spots in the right obverse field should serve as useful pedigree markers. An occasion of unmatched pride for us, the offering of this coin is truly the mark of a legendary sale. (NGC ID# 28AX, PCGS# 9132)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


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

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2000
    16th-17th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 637
    The Coinage of Augustus Saint-Gaudens as Illustrated by the Morse and Duckor Collections
    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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