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    1910 'Bright Proof' Double Eagle, PR67
    Among the Finest of Perhaps Only 60 Pieces Extant

    1910 $20 PR67 NGC. Like the other three gold coins struck in proof format in 1910, the double eagle had a larger-than-usual mintage. In this case, 167 proofs were sold. That number is nowhere near the production of quarter eagles, but it is significant for a coin that was worth five days' wages for the average American in 1910. Curiously, a larger number of survivors are known of the 1910 double eagle than are know of the eagle. The number is still relatively small, especially compared to the mintage, but the most reliable estimate is in the range of 50 to 60 pieces in all grades. As one would expect, the 1910 proof twenty is a condition as well as an absolute rarity. NGC shows a total of four pieces certified in PR67 with two PR68s. PCGS has graded the same number in high grades, but the distribution is slightly different with five in PR67 and one PR68 (3/15).
    Collector enthusiasm for the 'Bright Proof" or "Satin Proof" finish used in 1909 and 1910 was lackluster, just as it had been for the matte finish in 1908. At the ANA convention in September 1910, a resolution was passed that led to the abandonment of the bright proofs and resumption of the matte proofing process the following year. The resolution that was passed "following considerable debate" showed confusion between the sandblast finish and what members termed "the frosted finish." The first paragraph of the resolution stated in part: "It is the opinion of the majority of gold collectors that the present style of gold proof is far inferior to that showing the frosted finish." This resolution sealed the fate of the bright proof gold coins, and the next year matte proofing was resumed.

    In his upcoming book on the Saint-Gaudens series, Roger Burdette points out that "Proof coins were superior in detail and different in finish from circulation coins, but they were not necessarily perfect in every respect." He cites striking weakness on some 1910 proofs (but not on this coin), and he also mentions a phenomenon he calls "craters" that are seen on the stars outside the laurel branch (this is noted on this piece). This was caused on several stars "when there was not enough metal available to flow into the center of the stars. This could also be caused by a planchet being too hard."

    The obverse is uniformly bright yellow-gold, while the reverse has taken on a slight accent of reddish patina. We see no signs of post-strike contact on either side. The only useful pedigree identifier is a bluish spot above the first T in TRUST on the lower reverse. This is a magnificent example of the untreated proofs struck during the two-year window of 1909 and 1910, a unique finish that has never been used since that time. This outstanding coin is among the finest of this rare issue.
    From The Big Sky Collection.(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 Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
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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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