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    1909 'Bright Proof' Double Eagle, PR65
    Remarkably Preserved Example of This Short-Lived Method of Proof Production

    1909 $20 PR65 NGC. The new designs for the ten and twenty dollar gold coins by Augustus Saint-Gaudens were universally acclaimed for their artistic and sculptural merit. Never before had such artistic innovation been applied to coinage in the United States. But as popular as the coins were from a design standpoint, they were equally problematic to strike, initially because of their high relief, and secondly because of the textured fields that made traditional reflective proofs impractical. The Mint turned to the matte proofing process in 1908, but that was met with strong resistance from the collecting community. According to information in the upcoming reference by Roger Burdette on the Saint-Gaudens double eagle series,

    "The only information explaining why proofs were changed from sandblast to satin comes indirectly from collector William Woodin. He learned that Philadelphia Mint Superintendent John Landis had ordered the change after receiving a few complaints about the dull, sandblast proofs. Apparently, the decision was made by Landis alone."

    The method of production for "bright proofs" in 1909 and 1910 was a relatively simple one: Strike the coins on a hydraulic press, as was done in 1908, but eliminate the next step of sandblasting. In 1909, a total of 201 proof twenties were struck in two deliveries, one on January 16 (101 pieces) and the second on December 8 (100 pieces). Of these 201 pieces struck, 166 were accepted, but only 67 proofs were actually sold.

    This is a remarkably well-preserved 1909 proof twenty. The fields show the pebbly texturing that made these coins unsuitable for mirrored proof production. The Mint terminology of "bright proof" is certainly applicable and understandable when viewing this piece. The only addition to the coin is a light layer of reddish patina. We see no mentionable post-striking defects. Two minute planchet flakes can be seen with a loupe: One is located in the obverse field below the L in LIBERTY, and on the reverse an equally tiny one is seen on the sun below the U in TRUST. NGC has only certified five PR65 pieces with 16 finer (minus an uncertain number of resubmissions), and PCGS has graded even fewer with three Gem proofs and five finer (3/15).
    From The New Orleans Collection.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GW, PCGS# 9206)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The New Orleans Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
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    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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