Enthralling 1912 Double Eagle, PR671912 $20 PR67 NGC. The U.S. Mint has a long history of interaction with the mints of Europe. Chief Engravers William Barber and George T. Morgan were employed in Great Britain prior to their work in the United States, and the technological advances made in Europe from the 1830s to the 20th century made their way across the Atlantic Ocean as well. Q. David Bowers, in his Commemorative Coins of the United States (1991), writes that "in 1905 the government sent [Chief Engraver Charles] Barber on a tour of European mints to study the procedures in use there. Upon his return to Philadelphia he implemented many changes that resulted in the Medal Department of the Mint's being one of the world's finest facilities."
Not every European concept found a warm welcome in the United States. The dulled, dark finish of the sandblast proof, however en vogue it might have been in Europe, was a shocking change from the brilliant proofs to which American numismatists were accustomed, and when the gold sandblast proofs of 1908 reached numismatists, complaints followed. After two years of the distinctive, brighter "Roman Gold" finish failed to quell its customers' criticism, the Mint returned to the sandblast finish in 1911. Predictably, demand plummeted, and production fell from 167 proofs in 1910 to 100 pieces in 1911. For the next year, 1912, the Mint released just 74 pieces.
The exquisitely preserved double eagle offered here makes tangible all of the strengths and perceived weaknesses of the sandblast proofs of 1912. Both sides display bold detail, which is particularly evident on Liberty's toes and the veins of the eagle's feathers. The delicately faceted, undisturbed surfaces display even khaki-gold coloration with only two small points of slightly deeper color, one in the left obverse field and one near 3 o'clock on the reverse rim. A spectacular survivor, one that ranks alongside the Trompeter, Morse, and Loewinger specimens, all Superb Gems. NGC has certified a lone piece graded PR68 ★ , while PCGS has graded no coins above PR66 (5/07).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GZ, PCGS# 9209)
Weight: 33.44 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
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