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    Unique Matte Proof 1910 Double Eagle, PR66

    1910 $20 PR66 NGC. Matte. The Garrett-Guth Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins notes that "One Proof example exists of this date in matte finish. It was last seen in 1908 [sic-likely 1998]--that coin is graded NGC PF-66. It is part of a unique 1910 matte Proof gold set." This piece is from the set that Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth wrote about, although the set is no longer intact. The quarter eagle and half eagle from that set were offered in our November 2006 sale. Walter Breen wrote about the existence of 1910 matte proof quarter eagles and half eagles in his Proof Encyclopedia, but made no mention of similar eagles and double eagles.
    After production of Matte Finish proof gold coins in 1908 was met with extreme collector dissatisfaction, the Mint tried an alternative finish in 1909 and 1910, usually called the Roman Finish but also described as Satin Finish. The Roman Finish proof gold pieces have surfaces that display a watery or wavy appearance, sometimes described as an orange-peel texture, much the same as the watery appearance of earlier brilliant proof gold pieces, only without the mirrored fields. Breen discussed coins of this finish in his Proof Encyclopedia: "So-called 'Roman Gold' finish, so designated since the early 1940s (I have been unable to find the actual source for the term). Surfaces light in color, midway between satiny and mirrorlike, entirely without the granularity of matte or sandblast. Wayte Raymond used to call them 'brilliant matte proofs.' "
    The surfaces of this 1910 matte proof double eagle have lovely light yellow color, similar to the Roman Finish proofs, but the texture is entirely different. In fact, the appearance of this piece is quite similar to the matte proof 1911 double eagle that we sold in November 2005 as part of the Phillip H. Morse Collection: "This piece shows thousands of tiny sparkling facets under magnification and the basic mustard color is overlaid by a thin veneer of olive-green." The existence of the "tiny sparkling facets" is the universal description for nearly all matte proof gold pieces, and it is these tiny facets that provide the sandblast appearance of such coins. In different years, the matte proof gold coins exhibit a wide range of colors, from the light yellow or orange-gold of this piece, to certain issues that had an extremely dark brown color.
    The surfaces of this piece are pristine with no disturbances that we can locate, suggesting that future pedigree identification will be nearly impossible. Both sides have full and crisp design details in all areas. The reverse border has a small raised lump at 9 o'clock and a tiny depression at 3 o'clock.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GX, PCGS# 9207)

    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 Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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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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