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Coins / USA, 1907 Saint Gaudens 20 High Relief, Wire Edge MS65 PCGS

Lot 43
USA, 1907 Saint Gaudens $20 High Relief, Wire Edge MS65 PCGS
27 June 2022, 13:00 PDT
Los Angeles

Sold for US$46,800 inc. premium

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USA, 1907 Saint Gaudens $20 High Relief, Wire Edge MS65 PCGS

An exquisite, awe-inspiring example of this classic 20th century double eagle type. Smooth and satiny with beautiful yellow-gold patina, both sides allow ready appreciation of a fully executed strike. Expertly struck, carefully preserved, and thoroughly appealing. (9135)

The trials and tribulations that accompanied the creation of one of the greatest coin designs were a combination of multiple factors, not the least of which was interference from Chief Engraver Barber. After Saint-Gaudens' death on August 3, 1907, Roosevelt expressed mounting concern that Hering with the revised models could not be located and was at this point intensely frustrated at the delays. He instructed Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou to compel the Mint to prepare their own models and have the coins ready for circulation by September 1. Mint staff including Barber were immediately put to work to finish the coin. However, Barber who had counted on the tremendous difficulty with the Ultra High Relief coins would convince Treasury officials to give up on the project and switch to a more "sensible" flatter relief coin. Barber had even gone so far to complain to Mint Superintendent John H. Landis on August 14 that the deadline was impossible to accomplish since not only did he not have the dies, he didn't even have the adjusted models Hering was working on at the time of Saint-Gaudens' death. Indeed, it was not until September 28 that Hering finally delivered the required models to the Philadelphia Mint, but Barber in his by now seemingly usual curmudgeonly manner rejected them outright as being impossible to render into reduction.

In the meantime, Roosevelt nominated Frank A. Leach to become the new Mint Director, in which role he would assume on November 1. Now with fresh blood at the Mint's top post, Roosevelt personally advised Leach to take a firm course of action to get the coins produced, even going so far as to slam his fists down on the new Mint Director's desk and to "begin the new issue, even if it takes you all day to strike one piece!" Production was finally able to commence but issues continued to plague their manufacture. Coiners found that because of the high pressures involved in producing the High Relief coins as well as the multiple strikes required to properly bring up all aspects of the design, metal was forming a thin metal fin on the coin's rim that the Mint felt was a flaw. It was only after some 8,000 of the so-called Wire Rim coins had been struck that the fin was finally eliminated.

As one of the quintessential of all American coins, ownership of a High Relief double eagle has long been a mark of honor for numismatists and especially so in Mint State. While a large number of Uncirculated examples were set aside at the time of issue, many suffered impairments from careless handling. A lovely Gem Mint State example with superb eye appeal will find no trouble locating an appreciative home that will be a source of tremendous pride for years to come.

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