World Coins

1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief double eagle sells for $222K

This Proof 67 1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief, Roman Numerals gold $20 double eagle brought $222,300 at a June 2, 2014, Bonhams auction.

Images courtesy of Bonhams.

The following post is pulled from Coin World editor Steve Roach’s Market Analysis column in the June 23 issue.

International auctioneer Bonhams continues to have success with its rare coin auctions. Its most recent in Los Angeles on June 2 brought nearly $1.2 million with nearly 90 percent of the 368 lots finding buyers. 

The auction was notable for its selection of gold U.S. coins including two Proof $20 double eagles, one detailed below, that both broke the $200,000 mark.

The coin: 1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief double eagle, Proof 67, $222,300

The story: The 1907 Saint-Gaudens, High Relief, Roman Numerals double eagle, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is legendary for its beauty and is always popular with collectors. 

Many consider it America’s most beautiful coin. Alas, the high relief made it impractical for mass production, and the relief was lowered in 1907. 

Debate continues as to whether or not some 1907 High Relief double eagles that display a certain set of characteristics are Proofs. While Numismatic Guaranty Corp. recognizes High Relief Proofs, Professional Coin Grading Service does not. 

Key differences include:

??Extremely sharp details, both at the centers and toward the edges.

??No die erosion or distortion.

??Bold, raised die-polishing lines on both sides in a random, swirling pattern.

??A build-up of metal inside both borders, most notable on the obverse (quite possibly a result of the tremendous pressure exerted during multiple strikes on the hydraulic medal press). 

Even the description acknowledges, “Many proofs look very much like their business-strike counterparts, and close examination is required to differentiate the two.” It adds, “There are no official mintage figures for Proofs and the origins of the coins are a mystery.”

NGC has recorded more than 250 submissions of Proof High Relief double eagles and, at Proof 67, this piece is among the finest graded by NGC. It sold for $222,300.

More from Steve Roach's latest Market Analysis column: 

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