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    Description

    1908 Motto Double Eagle, PR66+
    First Matte Proof Issue
    Classic 20th Century Rarity

    1908 $20 Motto PR66+ PCGS. CAC. JD-1, Low R.5. The Philadelphia Mint found it impossible to polish the basined surfaces and high relief devices of the new Saint-Gaudens design in the same manner as the old brilliant proofs of previous years. Accordingly, they adopted an artistic matte, or sandblast, finish for gold proof coins in 1908. After striking, the 1908 proofs were heavily sandblasted with a coarse grain of sand that produced a dark olive-gold patina, with none of the reflective fields and field-device contrast of earlier proofs. The resulting finish resembled that seen on some European medals of the period, but contemporary U.S. collectors much preferred the old brilliant proof finish. Mint records indicate only 101 proof double eagles were distributed in 1908. Remaining unsold pieces were subsequently melted. Probably no more than 60 to 70 examples survive today in all grades.

    Gold proof sets began appearing on the secondary market almost immediately, as dealers sought to capitalize on the novelty of the new design. An early auction appearance was in lot 476 of the Andrew C. Zabriskie Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1909), "1908. Gold proof set, $20, $10, $5, $2 1/2. Dull sandblasted finish. Extremely rare. Set." The lot realized $70, a fairly strong price at the time. Collectors eventually came to appreciate the sandblast proofs and present-day numismatists hold them in high regard. Recent sales of the 1908 proof double eagle include the PR66 PCGS example in lot 4569 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2020), which realized $96,000.

    The present coin is a Plus-graded Premium Gem, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements. The columns in the Capitol Building are individually countable and Liberty's facial features are sharply delineated. The virtually flawless surfaces display even honey-gold color across both sides of the coin. The outstanding quality and eye appeal are attested by the CAC sticker. This coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set. This coin is part of a complete 1908 proof set, with the other coins offered in neighboring lots in the catalog.
    Population: 6 in 66 (1 in 66+), 2 finer. CAC: 2 in 66, 2 finer (1/20).
    From The Stunning 1908 Proof Set. (Registry values: N10218)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26GV, PCGS# 9205)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Stunning 1908 Proof Set ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2020
    20th-23rd Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 41
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,467

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles as Illustrated by the Phillip H. Morse and Steven Duckor Collections
    Revised Edition by Roger Burdette, and edited by James L. Halperin and Mark Van Winkle

    Saint-Gaudens Double Eagles is an issue-by-issue examination of this 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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