US Coins

Market Analysis: Facets of Proof U.S. gold must be understood

Matte Proof gold coins are rare and coveted. This 1908 Saint-Gaudens, With Motto double eagle graded Proof 66+ with a green CAC sticker brought $180,000 Feb. 20, while a 1908 Indian Head $10 eagle from the same original nine-piece Proof set realized $58,800.

Original images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

Collecting Proof United States gold coins is a rarefied area of the hobby, with big prices for nearly all examples. In 1908 the U.S. Mint adopted a matte, or sandblast, finish for Proof gold coins, but contemporary collectors favored the flashier mirrored surfaces of the previous Coronet type.

Some well-heeled collectors at the time could afford to buy full gold Proof sets with all four denominations. Heritage recently auctioned a nine-piece 1908 Proof set, with the gold coins offered individually. Most expensive was the 1908 Saint-Gaudens, With Motto double eagle, graded Proof 66+ by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, a coin from a mintage of just 101, of which perhaps 60 to 70 survive.

Heritage writes, “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 double eagle brought $180,000 on Feb. 20.

A matching 1908 Indian Head $10 eagle in PCGS Proof 65, one of just 116 distributed from a mintage of 500, sold for $58,800, offered in the previous lot.

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