1912 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, PR67
1912 $20 PR67 PCGS Secure. CAC. Only 74 proof Saint-Gaudens
double eagles were struck in 1912, and this date is roughly
comparable in rarity to the 1911 and the other dates of the series
(except for the 1908, which is the most "common"). Earlier
estimates of the number of survivors have ranged between 10-15
pieces to as many as 20-25 specimens. We believe the actual number
of proofs in all grades is somewhat higher, between 40 and 50
Rare Sandblast Proof
Only 74 Pieces Struck
The finish of this piece shows nearly monochromatic mustard coloration over both sides, though close inspection reveals occasional hints of olive-gold. Magnification shows myriad tiny sparkling facets from the sandblast surfaces. This sparkle gives the coin a "life" and sheen that serves as a perfect counterbalance to the otherwise deep coloration on the piece. Unfortunately, this "sandblast" finish proved as unpopular with collectors as the matte and Roman finishes of earlier years, and many of the coins went unsold, to be melted after the end of the year. The design was modified slightly in 1912, adding two stars to the obverse array to signify the admission of Arizona and New Mexico to the Union.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm most contemporary collectors showed for the proof issues of this period, a few numismatists like Virgil Brand and John H. Clapp continued to order proofs from the Mint on a regular basis. One such numismatist was William Forrester Dunham, whose collection featured an unbroken run of proof twenties from 1885 until 1914. When his collection was sold by B. Max Mehl in June 1941, the 1912 proof Saint was described in lot 2359:
"1912 Sandblast proof. Rare. For some reason this date seems to be more scarce and difficult to obtain than any of the other dates of this series."
The lot realized $75, a higher price than any other Saint-Gaudens twenty in the sale (12 Saints were offered, including both Wire Rim and Flat Rim High Reliefs and proofs from 1908-1914). Present-day numismatists believe the later proof issues of the series are actually even rarer than the 1912, but Mehl's comments may have been true in 1941, before the coins in the great collections of Louis Eliasberg, Colonel E.H.R. Green, and Virgil Brand came on the market. The 1912 sandblast proof remains quite rare, in any case. The current prices realized record for the 1912 proof Saint-Gaudens double eagle was recently set by the coin offered here when it sold for $211,500 in lot 5936 of the Rosemont Signature (Heritage, 8/2013).
The present coin is a magnificent Superb Gem, with fully struck devices and a wire rim around both sides. Close inspection with a loupe reveals no mentionable distractions on the unblemished fields. This is the only specimen graded MS67 by PCGS, and its added CAC endorsement makes this piece even more desirable. This is only the second time a Superb Gem from PCGS has been offered at public auction. Registry Set enthusiasts should bid accordingly. Population: 1 in 67, 0 finer (4/14).
Ex: ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2004), lot 7819; Boston Signature (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3654, Rosemont Signature (Heritage, 8/2013), lot 5936, realized $211,500..(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26GZ, PCGS# 9209)
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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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