1909 Normal Date Saint, MS66
1909 $20 MS66 PCGS Secure. CAC. Ex: Duckor/Akers. It is
impossible to examine the 1909 double eagle and numismatic
perceptions of it, both past and present, without comparing it to
its overdated counterpart. Collectors have long been conditioned to
think of overdates as special varieties, especially among 20th
century coins. When one die out of hundreds is overdated, as was
the case with issues such as the 1942/1 dime, then the pattern
holds true. Yet the most famous gold overdate of the 20th century,
the 1909/8 double eagle, is a dramatic exception; Q. David Bowers
wrote in A Guide Book of Double Eagle Gold Coins, "The
1909/8 is believed to have constituted perhaps nearly half of the
mintage of the 1909 Philadelphia double eagle."
Rarity Equal to the Overdate
Overabundant adverbs aside, if half the 1909 double eagles are overdates, then it stands to reason that the "perfect date" coins are of similar rarity. Writing from the perspective of 1982, David Akers noted in the double eagle volume of U.S. Gold Coins: An Analysis of Auction Records that "for years, the 1909 normal date was overshadowed by the popular 1909/8, but in the past decade or so the 1909 has come to be correctly recognized as the rarer of the two issues." A later Akers perspective comes from the 1998 catalog for the famous Dr. Thaine B. Price Collection, in which he writes:
"Prior to the appearance on the market recently of a substantial number of mint state specimens, the 1909 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle was generally considered to be much more scarce than it is now known to be. Hundreds of specimens have come onto the market over the past few years from one large hoard, and many of these specimens are attractive and fairly high quality, although most of them grade Choice Uncirculated or lower."
The increased Mint State availability of the "perfect date" between the two periods is reflected in current-day pricing for the two issues: their prices parallel each other through circulated grades, but the overdate commands a heavy premium in MS63 condition. The disparity in population, if not in price, has all but faded away by the MS65 level, where both overdate and "perfect date" coins are rarities. Go one more step, into MS66, and the "perfect date" PCGS Population Report shows just seven examples in that condition, with none finer (10/11). Ownership of an MS66 1909 Saint-Gaudens twenty has been the mark of many fine modern-era collections of the series; the Dr. Thaine B. Price specimen was later certified as MS66 by PCGS, and the Morse, Brahin, and Kutasi collections all had examples at the same grade level from the same service.
As might be expected from the Premium Gem grade, this is the quintessential 1909 "perfect date" double eagle. The strike is razor-sharp, and the luster is satiny, a characteristic never seen on the overdates. The color is orange-gold at the interiors, one of the few unusual characteristics for the issue, but a more familiar mint-green hue is present near the rims. The obverse is incredibly well-preserved, and aside from a few tiny marks in the rays on the reverse, that side is also largely abrasion-free. CAC and this cataloger agree that this is a coin of great quality, sure to please its next owner.
Ex: David Akers.
David Akers Comments:
Prior to about two decades ago, when a fairly large hoard of uncirculated examples was discovered in Europe, the 1909 was considered to be a very scarce issue in any grade and a rare one in choice uncirculated condition or better. The hoard changed all that, however, and now the 1909 is strictly a condition rarity, that is, one whose rarity is almost entirely dependent on the grade rather than the total number of specimens known. There were hundreds of choice and even very choice uncirculated specimens in the hoard and so at those levels the 1909 is now considered scarce rather than rare. However, the addition of the hoard specimens to the total population didn't diminish the rarity of gems of this date. They are still considered very rare and probably no more than 20-25 MS65 quality examples are known to exist, if that many. The number of superb MS66 quality specimens is much smaller, probably less than half the MS65 population, and none have been graded above that level. Over the years, I have changed my opinion several times as to whether I thought the 1909 or 1909/8 is the more rare issue in gem condition. Today, I consider the overdate to be slightly rarer at both of the top two grade levels, MS65 and MS66, while it brings a considerably higher price in those grades. The two best 1909 double eagles I have ever handled are this Duckor coin and the Dr. Thaine Price example which was sold at auction in 1998.
From The Dr. and Mrs. Steven L. Duckor Collection.
Seller is donating a portion of their proceeds, and Heritage is donating the same portion of the Buyer's Premium, from the sale of this lot to the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. See page 3 for details.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 26FB, PCGS# 9150)
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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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